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From the painting by Tintoretto Pitti Palace Gallery, Florence 

Painting photographed by Fratelli Alinari, Florence 

The Art of 



Celebkated Venetian Centbnaeian 


with essays by 
Joseph Addison, Lord Bacon, and Sir William Temple 

He was not of an age, hut for all time. — Ben Jonson. 


William F. Butlbb 



Copyright, 1903 


All rigrhts reserved 



Against diseases Jcnovm, the strongest fence 
Is the defensive virtue, abstinence. 

— Benjamin Franklin. 

FOR a people of whom less than a two-hundredth part of 
one per cent, reach an age that Nature intends all should 
pass,* the words of the aged author of ''La Vita Sqhria" 
possess a deep import. To them this volume is addressed. 

Luigi Cornaro's own account — written toward the close 
of more than a century of life — of the means of his complete 
restoration from an almost hopeless complication of bodily 
infirmities, to the happy state he continued so long to enjoy, 
may be said to form a life story, which, in its peculiar signifi- 
cance, is without a parallel in history. 


"By showing conclusively and clearly 
That death is a stupid blunder merely. 
And not a necessity of our lives/' 

but by demonstrating, in a manner most decisive, that the con- 
dition of perfect health — maintained to the full limit of life 
ordained by Nature — is a blessing within the power of every 
human being to realize, and by indicating the path by which all 
may attain it, did this excellent man earn his unique position 

♦ See Note A 




among the benefactors of mankind. Let us hope that our posi- 
tive and practical age, ever ready to judge a proposition by its 
degree of usefulness, will perceive that a rule of life which 
effected the recovery of a dying man, and enabled him to retain 
entire mental and bodily vigor beyond his hundredth year, is 
of incontestable merit 

While there are some, who, though of the number of 
Comaro's most zealous pupils, regret that he permitted wine to 
form a portion of his abstemious diet ; yet, when his position on 
this question is contrasted with the prevailing custom of his 
country and age, his life is none the less recognized by all, as 
one of the most salutary examples of a truly teraperate career 
the world has yet witnessed. 

A carefully revised version of his celebrated treatise, made 
by able translators, is here presented. As a result of pains- 
taking researches among ancient documents in the archives of 
Venice and Padua, historical matter relating to Comaro and 
his family is also placed before the reader. Much of this is 
not to be found in any previous edition of his works, in the 
various languages into which they have been rendered. 

Of the other eminent writers whose teachings on the subject 
of longevity we have included in this volume, little need here 
be said. One of them, not many years after the famous cente- 
narian had passed away, emphasized to the world, in the Latin 
tongue, the substantial advantages Comaro had reaped from the 
habit of complete self-restraint to which he had accustomed him- 
self in early manhood, and from which, for the remainder of his 
days, he had never deviated. A century after Bacon, in the 
graceful tribute which Addison — one of the most practical 
philosophers of his age — pays to Comaro, we have an intro- 
duction to the work of the illustrious Venetian that is truly 
worthy of his theme. 

Acknowledgment for valuable assistance is gratefully made 
to Conte Comm. Filippo Grimani, LL. D., the honored Mayor 
of Venice ; Cav. Prof. Angelo Scrinzi, Ph. D., Director of the 
Venetian Civic Museum, and Dr. Ricciotti Bratti, his associate ; 



as well as Dr. Prof. Andrea Moschetti, Director of the Civic Mu- 
seum of Padua. Thanks are due, also, to Dr. Prof. Emilio Lo- 
varini, of Bologna, and Signor Michele Danesi, Editor of 
"L'Arte"^jne,ioT their kind revision of the translation of "The 
yillas Erected hy Luigi Comaro" and for their consent to its 
publication. To Cav. Dr. Enrico Ridolfi, Director of the Eoyal 
Galleries and National Museum of Florence, and to the photog- 
raphers Signori Fratelli Alinari, of the same city, this work is 
indebted for the copy of the Tintoretto painting of Luigi Cor- 
naro. Credit is accorded, for many helpful courtesies, to Miss 
Ida M. Street, author of "Rushiris Principles of Art Criticism" 
and Messrs. Willard G. Bleyer, of the University of Wisconsin, 
and John G. Gregory, of Milwaukee. 

William F. Butlbb. 
Milwaukee, January, 1917. 

Bosom up my counsel; 
You'll find it wholesome. — William Shakespeare. 

Deign, reader, to he taught, 
Whate'er thy strength of body, force of thought. 

— David Garrick. 

Know, prudent, cautious, self-control 
Is wisdom's root. 

— Robert Bums. 

Wouldst thou enjoy a long life, a healthy body, and 
a vigorous mind, and be acquainted also with the won- 
derful works of God, labor in the first place to bring 
thy appetite to reason. — Benjamin Franklin^ 



Peeface 7 


"To Luigi Cornaro." — John Witt Eandall 13 

Joseph Addison, in "The Spectator" October 13, 

ini 15 

Part I 

The Life and Writings of Luigi Cornaro 25 

"The Art of Living Long," by Luigi Cornaro 

First Discourse 39 

Second Discourse 77 

Third Discourse 91 

Fourth Discourse 103 

Paet II 

Selections from Lord Bacon's '^History of Life and 

Death" etc 117 

Selections from Sir William Temple's "Health and 

Long Life" etc 141 


A Short History of the Cornaro Family 159 

Some Account of Eminent Comaros 169 

Bartolomeo Gamba's Eulogy upon Luigi Cornaro. . . 179 
Emilio Lovarini's "The Villas Erected hy Luigi 

Cornaro" 191 

Notes 209 


Luigi Cornaro 4 

Joseph Addison 52 

Lord Bacon 102 

Sir William Temple 152 

The Coenaeo Coat of Aems 6 

If any man can convince me and bring home to 
me that I do not think or act aright, gladly will I 
change; for I search after truth, hy which man never 
yet was harmed. Bui he is harmed who ahideth on still 
in his deception and ignorance. 

Do not think that what is hard for thee to master 
is impossible for man; but if a thing is possible and 
proper to man, deem it attainable by thee. 

Persevere then until thou shalt have made these 
things thy own. 

Like a mariner who has doubled the promontory, 
thou wilt find calm, everything stable, and a waveless 

— Marcus Aurelius Antoninus 





thou that for an hundred years 

Didst lightly tread the ancestral hall. 

Yet sawest thy brethren bathed in tears, 

Cut down ere ripe, and round thee fall, — 

Well didst thou deem long life the measure 
Of long enjoyment to the wise. 

To fools alone devoid of pleasure; 

Thou wouldst not die as the fool dies. 

Robbed of thy titles, lands, and health. 
With man and fortune in disgrace. 

In wisdom didst thou seek thy wealth. 
Thy peace in friendship to thy race. 

With thine eleven grandchildren met. 
Thou couldst at will become the boy; 

And, thine own sorrows to forget, 

Couldst lose thyself in others' joy, — 
• See Note B 



Couldst mount thy horse when past fourscore. 
And climb steep hills, and on dull days 

Cheer the long hours with learned lore. 
Or spend thy wit on tales and plays. 

In summer, thou wa^t friend of flowers, 
And, when the winter nights grew long. 

And music cheered the evening hours. 
Still clearest was the old man's song. 

Thus, while thy calm and thoughtful mind 

The ravages of time survived. 
Three generations of mankind 

Dropped round thee, joyless and short-lived. 

Thou sawest the flowers of youth decay. 
Half dried and withered through excess. 

Till, nursed by virtue's milder ray. 
Thy green age grew to fruitfulness. 

Thou sawest life's barque on troubled seas 

Long tossed; care's clouds thy skies o'ercast; 

But calm content, with moderate breeze. 
Brought thee to wisdom's port at last. 

Life's evening, wherein most behold 
Their season of regrets and fears. 

Became for thee an age of gold. 

And gave thee all thy happiest years. 

As gentle airs and genial sun 

Stay winter's march when leaves grow sere. 
And, when the summer's race is run. 

With a new summer crown the year; 



So temperance, like that lingering glow 

Which makes the October woods so bright. 

Did on thy vale of years bestow 
A glorious autumn of delight. 

What useful lessons might our race 
From thy so sage experience draw! 

Earth might become a joyous place. 

Would man but reverence nature's law. 

Soar folly, self, and sense above; 

Govern each mutinous desire; 
Nor let the sacred flame of love 

In passion's hurricane expire. 

No wondrous works of hand or mind 

Were thine; God bade thee stand and wait, 

A living proof to all thy kind 

That a wise man may master fate. 

Happy that life around whose close 
The virtues all their rainbows cast. 

While wisdom and the soul's repose 

Make age more blest than all the past! 

THERE* is a story in the *^ Arabian Nights Tales" 
of a king who had long languished under an ill 
habit of body, and had taken abundance of remedies 
to no purpose. At length, says the fable, a physician 
cured him by the following method: He took a hollow 
ball of wood, and filled it with several drugs ; after which 
* See Note C 



he closed it up so artificially that nothing appeared. He 
likewise took a mall; and, after having hollowed the 
handle, and that part which strikes the ball, he inclosed 
in them several drugs after the same manner as in the 
ball itself. He then ordered the sultan, who was his pa- 
tient, to exercise himself early in the morning with these 
rightly prepared instruments, till such time as he should 
sweat; when, as the story goes, the virtue of the medi- 
caments perspiring through the wood, had so good an 
influence on the sultan's constitution, that they cured him 
of an indisposition which all the compositions he had 
taken inwardly had not been able to remove. This East- 
ern allegory is finely contrived to show us how beneficial 
bodily labor is to health, and that exercise is the most 
effectual physic. I have described in my hundred and 
fifteenth paper, from the general structure and mechan- 
ism of a human body, how absolutely necessary exercise 
is for its preservation; I shall in this place recommend 
another great preservative of health, which in many 
cases produces the same effects as exercise, and may, in 
some measure, supply its place, where opportunities of 
exercise are wanting. The preservative I am speaking 
of is temperance; which has those particular advantages 
above all other means of health, that it may be practiced 
by all ranks and conditions, at any season or in any place. 
It is a kind of regimen into which every man may put 
himself, without interruption to business, expense of 



money, or loss of time. If exercise throws off all super- 
fluities, temperance prevents them; if exercise clears the 
yessels, temperance neither satiates nor overstrains them ; 
if exercise raises proper ferments in the humors, and pro- 
motes the circulation of the blood, temperance gives nature 
her full play, and enables her to exert herself in all her 
force and vigor; if exercise dissipates a growing distem- 
per, temperance starves it. 

Physic, for the most part, is nothing else but the 
substitute of exercise or temperance. Medicines are 
indeed absolutely necessary in acute distempers, that can- 
not wait the slow operations of these two great instru- 
ments of health; but did men live in a habitual course 
of exercise and temperance, there would be but little 
occasion for them. Accordingly, we find that those parts 
of the world are the most healthy where they subsist by 
the chase; and that men lived longest when their lives 
were employed in hunting, and when they had little food 
besides what they caught. Blistering, cupping, bleeding, 
are seldom of use but to the idle and intemperate; as all 
those inward applications which are so much in practice 
among us, are for the most part nothing else but expedi- 
ents to make luxury consistent with health. The apoth- 
ecary is perpetually employed in countermining the 
cook and the vintner. It is said of Diogenes, that, meet- 
ing a young man who was going to a feast, he took him 
up in the street and carried him home to his friends, as 
one who was running into imminent danger, had not he 



prevented him. What would that philosopher have 
said, had he been present at the gluttony of a modern 
meal? Would not he have thought the master of a family 
mad, and have begged his servants to tie down his hands, 
had he seen him devour fowl, fish, and flesh; swallow 
oil and vinegar, wines and spices; throw down salads of 
twenty different herbs, sauces of a hundred ingredients, 
confections and fruits of numberless sweets and flavors? 
What unnatural motions and counter-ferments must such 
a medley of intemperance produce in the body! For my 
part, when I behold a fashionable table set out in all its 
magnificence, I fancy that I see gouts and dropsies, 
fevers and lethargies, with other innumerable distempers, 
lying in ambuscade among the dishes. 

Nature delights in the most plain and simple diet. 
Every animal, but man, keeps to one dish. Herbs are 
the food of this species, fish of that, and flesh of a third. 
Man falls upon everything that comes in his way; not 
the smallest fruit or excrescence of the earth, scarce a 
berry or a mushroom, can escape him. 

It is impossible to lay down any determinate rule 
for temperance; because what is luxury in one may be 
temperance in another. But there are few that have 
lived any time in the world, who are not judges of their 
own constitutions, so far as to know what kinds and what 
proportions of food do best agree with them. Were I to 
consider my readers as my patients, and to prescribe 
such a kind of temperance as is accommodated to all per- 



sons, and such as is particularly suitable to our climate 
and way of living, I would copy the following rules of 
a very eminent physician : "Make your whole repast out 
of one dish; if you indulge in a second, avoid drinking 
anything strong till you have finished your meal; at the 
same time abstain from all sauces, or at least such as are 
not the most plain and simple/^ A man could not be well 
guilty of gluttony, if he stuck to these few obvious and 
easy rules. In the first case, there would be no variety 
of tastes to solicit his palate, and occasion excess; nor, 
in the second, any artificial provocatives to relieve satiety, 

and create a false appetite But, because it is 

impossible for one who lives in the world to diet himself 
always in so philosophical a manner, I think every man 
should have his days of abstinence, according as his con- 
stitution will permit. These are great reliefs to nature, 
as they qualify her for struggling with hunger and 
thirst, whenever any distemper or duty of life may put 
her upon such difficulties; and at the same time give her 
an opportunity of extricating herself from her oppres- 
sions, and recovering the several tones and springs of 
her distended vessels. Besides that, abstinence well- 
timed often kills a sickness in embryo, and destroys the 
first seeds of an indisposition. It is observed by two or 
three ancient authors, that Socrates, notwithstanding he 
lived in Athens during that great plague, which has made 
so much noise through all ages, and has been celebrated 
at different times by such eminent hands; I say, not- 



withstanding that he lived in the time of this devouring 
^ pestilence, he never caught the least infection ; which 
those writers unanimously ascribe to that uninterrupted 
temperance which he always observed. 

And here I cannot but mention an observation which 
I have often made, upon reading the lives of the philoso- 
phers, and comparing them with any series of kings or 
great men of the same number. If we consider these 
ancient sages, a great part of whose philosophy consisted 
in a temperate and abstemious course of life, one would 
think the life of a philosopher and the life of a man were 
of two different dates. For we find that the generality 
of these wise men were nearer a hundred than sixty 
years of age at the time of their respective deaths. But 
the most remarkable instance of the efficacy of temper- 
ance toward the procuring of long life, is what we meet 
with in a little book published by Luigi Cornaro 
the Venetian; which I the rather mention, because it 
is of undoubted credit, as the late Venetian ambassador, 
who was of the same family, attested more than once in 
conversation, when he resided in England. Cornaro, 
who was the author of the little ^'Treatise'' I am men- 
tioning, was of an infirm constitution, till about forty; 
when, by obstinately persisting in an exact course of 
temperance, he recovered a perfect state of health; inso- 
much that at fourscore he published his book, which has 
been translated into English under the title of ^^A Sure 
and Certain Method of Attaining a Long and Healthy 



Life/' He lived to give a third or fourth edition of it; 
and, after having passed his hundredth year, died without 
pain or agony, and like one who falls asleep. The 
^'Treatise'' I mention has been taken notice of by several 
eminent authors, and is written with such a spirit of 
cheerfulness, religion, and good sense, as are the natural 
concomitants of temperance and sobriety. The mixture 
of the old man in it is rather a recommendation than a 
discredit to it. 

— Joseph Addison, in ''The Spectator," October 13, 1711. 


Of aU tyrants, custom is that which to sustain 
itself stands most in need of the opinion which is enter- 
tained of its power; its only strength lies in that which 
is attrihuted to it. A single attempt to hreah the yoke 
soon shows us its fragility. Bui the chief property of 
cvMom is to contract our ideas, like our movements, 
within the circle it has traced for v^. It governs us hy 
the terror it inspires for any new and untried condition. 
It shows u^ the walls of the prison within which we are 
inclosed, as the boundary of the world; beyond that, all 
is undefined, confusion, chaos; it almost seem^ as 
though we should not have air to breathe. 

—F. P. G. Guizot. 





Prefaced by a Short Account of His 
Life and Writings 

*Tis in ourselves that we 
are tlius or thus. Our "bodies are gardens; to the which 
our wills are gardeners: so that if we will plant nettles 
or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up thyme, supply 
it with one gender of herhs or distract it with many, 
either to have it sterile with idleness or manured with 
industry, why, the power and corrigible authority of 
this lies in our wills. If the balance of our lives had 
not one scale of reason to poise another of sensuality, 
the blood and baseness of our natures would conduct 
iw to most preposterous conclusions: but we have reason 
to cool our raging motions, our carnal stings, our un- 
bitted lusts.— "Othello.'* 

A Short Account of 








Sir, well may Fame to you accord the praise 
That, spite of adverse stars and nature's strife. 
Solely hy measured conduct of your life. 

Healthy and happy you gained length of days. 

Nor stops approval there, hut also weighs 
The pains you spared not to set others right. 
Guiding their footsteps hy your heaconrlight 

To long and pleasant journeying through life's maze. 

Blest is your lot, who, with a steadfast mind. 
Beneath a load of years which many fear. 

Contented and felicitous abide, 



Your voice in song upraised rohust and clear. 
Your thoughts with nohle studies occupied. 
That good is yours which is for man designed. 


"Weary and woeful is senectitude 

E'en when from penury and aches 'tis free" 
Cries one, "for that it brings debility. 

And warns us of the grisly monarch rude." 

Yet he who holds in rein his passions crude. 

Nor rends the blossoms from life's growing tree. 
Gathers in age fruits sweet and fair to see. 

For Nature is with purpose hind endued. 

If I, now years come on, am weak and ill. 
Not time, bui I, am cause of this my woe. 

Too much I heeded headlong appetite. 

And though to save the wreck I bend my will, 
'Tis vain, I fear — / ever older grow. 

And aged error is not soon set right. 


In hermit caverns, where the desert glowers. 
The ancient Fathers lived on frugal fare — 
Roots, cresses, herbs — avoiding viands rare. 

Nor had they palates less refined than ours. 

From their example, confirmation flowers 
Of what you tell me, and in mind I bear 
That feasts which folly spreads on tables fair 

Our frames enfeeble and reduce our powers. 



The wish in man is native to remain 
Long with the living, for to live is sweet. 

His wish he may by abstinence attain. 

Dame Reason counsels, sober and discreet. 

This way that solid privilege to gain. 
And tardy to the realm of shades retreat. 

LUIGI CORNARO,* often styled The Venetian Centena- 
EiAN^ the aged author of the famous treatise, '^La Vita 

Sobria"* (literal translation, "The Temperate Life," but 
better known as "The Art of Living Long"), was bom in the 
city of Venice in the year 1464. 

Although a direct descendant of the illustrious family of 
Comaro, yet, defrauded in some way through the dishonest 
intrigues of some of his relatives, — we are but imperfectly 
acquainted with the circumstances, — he was deprived of the 
honors and privileges attached to his noble birth, and excluded 
from all public employment in the State. A man of great 
personal and family pride, he felt very keenly the humilia- 
tion of this treatment; and, as a consequence, he withdrew 
from his native place and made the city of Padua his home 
for the remainder of his life, save for brief seasons of summer 
retirement to his country-seats. 

Yet that, which, at the time, must have seemed to him a 
great misfortune, proved eventually a blessing; and doubtless, 
during the long course of his remarkable career, Cornaro's 
philosophic mind often reverted with thankfulness to those 
very indignities, but for which, perhaps, he would never have 
received the chief incentive of his life ; for may we not believe 
it was because of them that he resolved to found for himself 
a more honorable name — one that should rest upon a sounder 
and more worthy basis than mere family pride. This deter- 
mination, whatever may have inspired it, proved, as we learn 

* See Note D. 



in his narrative, to be the crisis of his life, changing, as if by 
magic, its entire course; and it resulted in the establishment 
of a fame, not only great in his own day, but which continues 
to increase as time rolls on. 

In order to accomplish the purpose uppermost in his 
mind, the first thing to which he gave his constant and most 
intelligent attention was the securing of perfect health, which 
heretofore he had never known, and which he recognized as the 
best armor for the warfare of life ; a knowledge, the importance 
of which — in his day, as in ours — few fully realized. At 
the details of this glorious work, as well as its happy results, 
we shall here take only a hasty glance ; for the picture he has 
painted is by the hand of a master, and no one but himself 
can do it justice. 

Bom with a very delicate constitution, accompanied un- 
fortunately by a choleric disposition, Cornaro furthermore gave 
evidence, in early life, of careless habits which finally developed 
into those of intemperance ; and, though destined to leave behind 
him a name imperishable, because of virtues based upon a 
complete subjugation of every passion, was almost destroyed, 
before he reached the age of forty, by those natural and acquired 
infirmities, which, for years, had made his days and nights an 
almost continual martyrdom. 

Finally convinced that his unnatural habits would, if per- 
sisted in, soon be the cause of his death, and possessed of 
ihat determined courage and resolution, which, on a closer 
acquaintance, we shall recognize and learn to admire as his 
chief trait, he changed his manner of life so completely that, 
in a very brief time, his diseases disappeared, giving place to 
a rugged health and serenity of mind hitherto unknown to 
him. In a word, from a despairing and almost helpless invalid, 
unfit for either work or enjoyment, he became not only a man 
of perfect health, singularly active and happy, but also such an 
example of complete self-restraint as to be the wonder and 
admiration of all who knew him, earning and receiving the 
title of The Temperate. The mildness and sweetness of his 
altered disposition at the same time gained for him the fullest 
respect and affection. 



In the city of Udine, northern Italy, he married Veronica 
di Spilimbergo,* a daughter of the noble house of that name. 

He very much desired children, not only for every natural 
reason, but also in order that his own offspring might inherit 
the large fortune which he possessed. Though for a long time 
disappointed in this hope, he was finally made very happy by 
the advent of a little daughter, bom when he and his wife were 
both well advanced in years; to her they gave the name of 
Chiara (Clara). In due time she was married to one of 
her own name and kindred, Giovanni (John), the son of Fan- 
tino Comaro, a member of the wealthy and powerful Comaro 
Piscopia branch of the family. She became the mother of 
eight sons and three daughters, all of whom the grandfather — 
as we learn from his own words — lived to see and enjoy. 

Having faithfully observed that wise law of Nature, mod- 
eration, for so many years, he anticipated, with a confidence 
which the sequel will show was neither unfounded nor dis- 
appointed, a happy and prosperous life of not less than a cen- 
tury ; and this span he was equally certain he would have been 
able to extend considerably, had it been his good fortune to 
have begun life with the advantages he assures us his teachings 
will confer on the children of all who lead the temperate life 
it had been his delight to follow. 

To the very close of his wonderful career he retained his 
accustomed health and vigor, as well as the possession, in their 
perfection, of all his faculties. No hand but his own can 
faithfully give us an account of the recreations and pleasures 
of that happy old age for which he entreats all to strive. But 
we may sum it all up in the one brief line wherein he assures 
us: "I never knew the world was beautiful until I reached 
old age." Of the knowledge that his was an instance without 
a parallel, he himself was not ignorant. In this thought he 
not only took a pardonable pride, but derived one of the 
greatest joys of his old age, when he reflected that while many 
others before him had written eulogies upon a life of temperance 
and regularity, no one, at the end of a century of life, had 
ever taken pen in hand to leave to the world the story of a 
* See Note E 



personal participation in the many indescribable blessings, 
which, for so many years, it had been his lot to enjoy ; nor had 
any one, after recovering broken health, lived to such an age 
to tell the world how he had done so. 

The one thought uppermost in his heart was that of grati- 
tude for his recovery, and for the countless blessings of his 
long life. This sentiment he hoped would ever continue to 
bear substantial fruit; for he lived and died in the belief that 
his labors in writing a faithful account of his experience, would 
result, for all time, in benefiting those who would listen to him. 
He was convinced, that if he, who had begun life under so many 
disadvantages, could attain perfect health and continue in it 
for so many years, the possibilities of those blessed with a 
perfect constitution and aided, from childhood, with the tem- 
perate rule of life, must indeed be almost unlimited. It will be 
difficult to find anywhere recorded an instance wherein consti- 
tutional defects, aggravated by unwise habits of life, threatened 
a more untimely death; and if Comaro, with a constitution 
naturally weak and apparently ruined at the age of forty, 
could attain such results, who will presume to set a limit to 
the possibilities of longevity for the human family, after con- 
secutive generations have faithfully observed Nature's wise 

Loaded with testimonials of the gratitude and reverence 
of many who had profited by his example and advice, — which 
knowledge of this benefit to others was, as he assures us, among 
the sweetest of his many blessings, — he passed the evening of 
his life honored by all, and in the enjoyment of the friendship 
and esteem of the most eminent of his countrymen. Having 
devoted his best years to the accomplishment of what he firmly 
believed to be his mission in this world, — a consecrated task, 
that of bringing home to his fellow-men the realization of the 
inevitable consequences of intemperance, — he patiently waited 
for the end. When death came, it found him armed with the 
resignation of the philosopher and a steadfastly courageous faith 
in the future, ready and glad to resign his life. Peacefully, 
as he had expected and foretold, he died at his palace in Padua, 
April 26, 1566, in the one hundred and third year of his age. 



(Historians have not agreed as to the year of his birth, some 
placing his age at one hundred and four, others as low as 
ninety-eight. The dates we have given are, however, substan- 
tiated by the best authorities.) 

He was buried on the eighth of the following month, with- 
out any pomp, according to the directions left in his will; 
and by his side his faithful wife, who survived him and lived 
to almost the same age, in due time was laid. Her end was 
an equally happy one, finding her in such perfect serenity of 
soul and ease of body, that those at her bedside were not aware 
that her gentle spirit had taken its flight. 

The beautiful home, built by Cornaro on the Via Mel- 
chiorre Cesarotti in Padua, and the scene, for so many years, 
of the greatest domestic happiness as well as of the most 
generous hospitality, is still in existence, and has always been 
known by his name. It consists, mainly, of three buildings; 
the palace — which is the principal one — and the casino are 
both attributed to Cornaro himself ; while the celebrated loggia 
is known as the work of his protege and friend, Falconetto.* 
The three inclose a courtyard, upon which all face — the palace 
on one side near the street, the loggia and casino on other sides. 

The best portrait extant of this justly celebrated man is 
catalogued as No. 83 in the famous gallery of the Pitti Palace, 
at Florence. It has, until recently, been considered one of 
Titian's paintings; but it is now known as the work of Tin- 
toretto, and is among the masterpieces of that famous artist. 
The canvas measures 44x33 inches, and the photographic copy 
used in this work is declared by the Director of the Pitti Gal- 
lery to be an excellent one. The figure, two-thirds in length, 
is life size. Cornaro is represented as seated in an armchair, 
dressed in black, his coat trimmed with fur. Though the 
picture portrays a man well advanced in years, there is a dignity 
of bearing and a keenness of eye that indicate one still physically 
vigorous and mentally alert. 

In other portions of this volume, some of the many 
attainments of this remarkable man are made manifest; we 
♦ See Note F 



will here — with this passing mention of his treatise on the 
preservation of the lagoons ("Trattato delle Acque," Padua, 
1560) — notice, very briefly, the writings for which he is 
chiefly known. 

At the age of eighty-three, after more than forty years of 
perfect health and undisturbed tranquillity of spirits, during 
which time he had lived a life that contrasted as much with 
that of his earlier days as it did with that which he saw com- 
monly lived by others around him, he wrote the first of the four 
discourses which constitute his famous treatise, "La, Vita 
JSobria." This was followed by the three others, one written 
at the age of eighty-six, one at ninety-one, and the last at 
ninety-five ; the four completing a most instructive life story — 
one with which he earnestly wished all might become familiar, 
that they might follow his example, and thus enjoy the countless 
blessings which had so filled his own cup to overflowing. 

Centuries ago, Pythagoras, Herodicus, Hippocrates, Iccus, 
Celsus, and Galen — as have some in every age — waged a 
bitter warfare against unnatural habits of life; and accounts 
of the attainment of extraordinary age, both in ancient and 
modem times, are not uncommon. The autobiography of Cor- 
naro, however, who, after patient search, discovered in his own 
person the curative and life-sustaining power of the temperate 
life, — and that beyond the century mark, — and who, with 
equal diligence, labored to impress upon others the lesson of 
his own experience, affords an instance without parallel in all 
the annals of history. 

In a very brief way — more effective, he believed, than 
if written at greater length — does this remarkable man hand 
down to posterity his conviction, both from observation and 
experience, of the utter worthlessness of the kind of life too 
often seen on all sides. At the same time he pictures the 
reward to be reaped every moment, but especially in old age, 
from a life spent in conformity with reason and Nature. 

Most particularly does he emphasize the greater value of 
the later years of life as compared with the earlier ones. By 
the time men have acquired knowledge, judgment, and expe- 
rience, — the necessary equipment of the fullest citizenship, — 



they are unable, he observes, because of physical degeneration, 
consequent on irrational and unnatural methods of living, to 
exercise these qualifications. Such men are then cut off in 
their prime, leaving, at fifty or sixty, their life work but half 
completed; and yet, as he protests, were they but to attain 
extreme age as followers of the life he led, "How much more 
beautiful would they make the world!" 

The first edition of ''La Vita Sohria" — the work on which 
Comaro's fame chiefly rests — was published at Padua in the 
year 1558 ; and few works of such small dimension have excited 
wider or more fervid discussion. For three hundred years 
this treatise has been a classic in his native land. Translated 
into Latin, as also into many modem languages, it has been 
popular wherever studied. Slight as the book is, it has, and 
■will continue to have, a permanent place in general literature; 
though we believe it may be questioned if many in this country, 
even among the most cultured readers, have had an opportunity 
of reading it. 

To those only imperfectly acquainted with his story, Cor- 
naro is merely a famous valetudinarian, who was enabled, by 
temperate living, to pass the age of a hundred. Careful readers 
of the book, however, will always remember him not only as a 
most charming autobiographer, but also as a man, who, having 
successfully solved one of life's most difficult problems, labored 
to encourage in others those habits which had proved so advan- 
tageous in his own case. His assurance that, after all, this 
world would be a most delightful place if people would but live 
temperately, is the burden of his message to mankind ; and who, 
today, is ready to declare him wrong in his assertion that man, 
by the weak indulgence of his appetites, has always shortened 
his life and failed to reap the countless blessings within his 
reach ? Convinced that from this source come most of the ills 
that flesh is heir to, Comaro writes with the confidence that 
those who listen to him earnestly wiU not fail to heed his warn- 
ing. Thus, also, will they not only secure that perfect health 
of body and mind, without which complete happiness can never 
be realized, but will be enabled to prolong, in honorable en- 
deavor, that enviable condition to the extreme limit intended 



by Nature. He hoped that the faithful following of his counsel 
would transform into a universal hymn of joy the strain of 
despairing weariness, — so evident throughout the recorded 
thought of all the centuries, — in which men of all nations and 
ranks of life have deplored the early loss of youth and vigor, 
and lamented the resistless strides of premature old age. 

A simple diet was almost exclusively the nourishment of 
the oldest peoples of Syria, Egypt, Greece, and, in their most 
glorious days, of the Romans; and when man shall once more 
take to heart this lesson of the means of enjoying uninter- 
rupted health and full length of days, — blessings which in ages 
long past were almost universally enjoyed, and which man alone, 
and the animals under his control, now fail to possess, — the 
world will everywhere be blessed with the presence of those who 
will be considered in their prime at an age now scarcely believed 
attainable. There will then be no doubt that life is worth liv- 
ing ; and, because man wiU then seek only its true and enduring 
joys, those problems that for ages have distressed him will 
vanish of themselves — problems existing only because of the 
craving of the unhealthy human brain for those shadows of life 
80 long pictured as its substance. 

The reader will have spent his time in vain, however, if 
he fails to appreciate fully the vital importance of the fact 
that Cornaro's own regimen, as he most strongly insists, was 
intended for himself alone — that he does not urge upon every- 
one the extreme abstinence practiced by himself. All persons, 
he declares, should observe the temperate life prescribed as 
Nature's highest law; but, as the temperance of one man is 
excess in his neighbor, each must discover the suitable quantity 
and quality of food proper in his own individual case, and then 
live accordingly. It is the aim and spirit, not the letter, of his 
example that he implores mankind to observe. 

While Cornaro's personal dietary habits are not, indeed, 
applicable in detail to every individual constitution, and were 
never, as we have just said, intended by him as such, yet his 
general rules will always be correct. These have had in the 
past, and have today, many followers ; and the number of those 
who faithfully tread in the pathway indicated for them by the 



venerable writer, constantly enjoying, during a long and happy 
life, the blessings promised them, will continue to increase, let 
us hope, until it includes, in the not remote future, the vast 
majority of our race. Even in an age of wealth and luxury, 
such as ours, in which opportunities rapidly multiply for the 
gratification of every sensuous desire, we need not fear that 
those who choose to be critics of Cornaro and the fundamental 
rules of his teachings, will continue to find willing listeners. 
Let us hope that, in time, all will take to heart the lesson taught 
mankind by the bitter experience of the centuries: that the 
physical, moral, intellectual, and social condition now so almost 
hopelessly universal, is but the inevitable result of disobedience 
of natural law ; and that man has but himself to blame when he 
fails to possess the greatest of earthly blessings — perfect health 
of body and mind — and fullness of years in which to enjoy it. 


Some, as thou saw*st, hy violent stroke shall die. 

By fire, flood, famine; by intemperance more 

In meats and drinks, which on the Earth shall bring 

Diseases dire, of which a monstrous crew 

Before thee shall appear, that thou may'st know 

Wliat misery the inabstinence of Eve 

Shall bring on men. 

If thou well observe 
The rule of *'Noi too much,** by temperance taught 
In what thou eat'st and drink'st, seeking from thence 
Due nourishment, not gluttonous delight. 
Till many years over thy head return; 
So mayst thou live, till, like ripe fruit, thou drop 
Into thy mother s lap, or be with ease 
Gathered, not harshly plucked, for death mature. 

— "Paradise Lost.** 






In Which He Demonstbates, by His Own Example, 





EiOHTY-six, Ninety-one, and Ninety-five 

Divine Sobriety, pleasing to God, the friend of 
nature, the daughter of reason, the sister of virtus, the 
companion of temperate living, . . . the loving mother of 
human life, the true medicine both of the soul and of the 
body; how much should men praise and thank thee for 
ihy courteous gifts! for thou givest them the means of 
preserving life in health, that blessing than which it did 
not please God we should have a greater in this world — 
life and existence, so naturally prized, so willingly 
guarded by every living creature! — Luigi Comaro. 



Wherein the author details the method by which he corrected 

his infirm condition, strengthened his naturally weak 

constitution, and thenceforth continued in 

the enjoyment of perfect health 

IT is certain that habit, in man, eventually becomes 
second nature, compelling him to practice that to 
which he has become accustomed, regardless of 
whether such a thing be beneficial or injurious to him. 
Moreover, we see in many instances — and no one can 
call this into question — that the force of habit will 
triumph even over reason. Indeed, if a man of good 
morals frequents the company of a bad man, it very often 
happens that he will change from good to bad. Yet 
sometimes the contrary is equally true; namely, that 
while good habits often change readily for the worse, so 
also do bad habits change to good ones; since a wicked 
man who has once been good may still, by frequenting 
the society of the good, return to the better ways which he 



had formerly followed. All these changes must be at- 
tributed solely to the force of habit, which is truly very 

It is in consequence of this powerful force of habit, 
that of late, — indeed during my own lifetime and 
memory, — three evil customs have gradually gained a 
foothold in our own Italy. The first of these is adulation 
and ceremony, the second is heresy, and the third is in- 
temperance. These three vices, cruel monsters of human 
life as they truly are, have, in our day, prevailed so uni- 
versally as to have impaired the sincerity of social life, 
the religion of the soul, and the health of the body. 

Having long reflected on this unfortunate condition, 
I have now determined to treat of the last of these vices — 
intemperance; and, in order to accomplish all I can 
toward abolishing it, I shall prove that it is an abuse. 
With regard to the two other obnoxious habits, I feel 
certain that, ere long, some noble mind will undertake 
the task of condemning them and removing them from 
among us. Thus do I firmly hope that I shall, before I 
leave this world, see these three abuses conquered and 
crushed out of Italy, and, consequently, witness the re- 
turn Of my country to her wise and beautiful customs of 

Coming, then, to that evil concerning which I pro- 
pose to speak, — the vice of intemperance, — I declare that 
it is a wicked thing that it should prevail to such an extent 
as to greatly lower, nay, almost abolish, the temperate 
life. For though it is well known by all that intemper- 
ance proceeds from the vice of gluttony, and temperance 
from the virtue of restraint, nevertheless the former is 
exalted as a virtuous thing and even as a mark of dis- 
tinction, while temperance is stigmatized and scorned as 
dishonorable, and as befitting the miserly alone. 


These false nations are due entirely to the force of 
habit; bred by men's senses and uncontrolled appetites. 
It is this craving to gratify the appetites which has 
allured and inebriated men to such a degree that, 
abandoning the path of virtue, they have taken to follow- 
ing the one of vice — a road which leads them, though they 
see it not, to strange and fatal chronic infirmities through 
which they grow prematurely old. Before they reach the 
age of forty their health has been completely worn out — 
just the reverse of what the temperate life once did for 
them. For this, before it was banished by the deadly 
habit of intemperance, invariably kept all its followers 
strong and healthy, even to the age of fourscore and 

O wretched and unhappy Italy, canst thou not see 
that intemperance kills every year amongst thy people as 
great a number as would perish during the time of a most 
dreadful pestilence, or by the sword or fire of many 
bloody wars ! And these truly immoral banquets of thine, 
now so commonly the custom, — feasts so great and 
intolerable that the tables are never found large enough 
to accommodate the innumerable dishes set upon them, 
so that they must be heaped, one upon another, almost 
mountain high, — must we not brand them as so many 
destructive battles! Who could ever live amid such 
a multitude of disorders and excesses! 

Oh, for the love of God, I conjure you to apply a 
remedy to this unholy condition! for I am certain there 
is no vice more displeasing to His Divine Majesty than 
this fatal one of intemperance. Let this new death, worse 
than any pestilence ever known, be driven out of Italy ; as 
was the case with that other epidemic, which, though it 
once caused so much misery, nowadays does but very 
little harm, — indeed, scarcely any, — thanks to the im- 



proved state of affairs brought about by good sanitary- 

For there is a remedy by which we may banish this 
fatal vice of intemperance — an easy remedy, and one of 
which every man may avail himself if he will ; that is, to 
live in accordance with the simplicity of Nature, which 
teaches us to be satisfied with little, to follow the ways of 
holy self-control and divine reason, and to accustom our- 
selves to eat nothing but that which is necessary to sus- 
tain life. 

We should bear in mind that anything more than this 
will surely be followed by infirmity and death; and that 
while intemperance is merely a gratification of the 
palat^ — a pleasure that vanishes in a moment, — yet, for 
a long time afterward, it causes the body much suffering 
and damage, and finally destroys it together with the 

I have seen many of my dearest friends and associ- 
ates, men endowed with splendid gifts of intellect and 
noble qualities of heart, fall, in the prime of life, victims 
of this dread tyrant; men who, were they yet living, 
would be ornaments to the world, while their friendship 
and company would add to my enjoyment in the same 
proportion as I was caused sorrow by their loss. 

Therefore, to prevent so great an evil for the future, 
I have decided to point out, in this brief treatise, what a 
fatal abuse is the vice of intemperance, and how easily it 
may be removed and replaced by the temperate habits of 
life which were formerly universal. And this I under- 
take all the more willingly, since I have been pressed 
thereunto by a number of young men of the brightest 
intellect, who are well aware that intemperance is a fatal 
vice; for they have seen their fathers die from its effects 
in the flower of manhood, while, on the other hand, they 




behold me still hale and flourishing at my great age of 
eighty-three years. 

Now, Nature does not deny us the power of living 
many years. Indeed, old age, as a matter of fact, is the 
time of life to be most coveted, as it is then that prudence 
is best exercised, and the fruits of all the other virtues 
are enjoyed with the least opposition; because, by that 
time, the passions are subdued, and man gives himself up 
wholly to reason. 

Hence, being desirous that they likewise may attain 
old age, these young people have besought me that I may 
be pleased to tell them the means by which I have been 
able to reach this advanced age. And since I perceive 
them full of so honest a desire, and as I heartily wish to 
benefit not only them, but those others also who may wish 
to read this brief treatise of mine, I shall now set forth, 
in writing, the cause which induced me to abandon my 
intemperate habits, and to embrace the orderly and 
temperate life. I shall likewise relate the manner in 
which I went about this reform, and the good results I 
afterward experienced through it; whence it will be 
clearly seen how easy a matter it is to overcome the habit 
of excess. And I shall demonstrate, in conclusion, how 
much that is good and advantageous is to be derived from 
the temperate life. 

I say, then, that the dire infirmities from which I 
constantly suffered, and which had not only invaded my 
system, but had gained such headway as to have become 
most serious, were the cause of my renouncing the errors 
of intemperance to which I had been very much addicted. 

The excesses of my past life, together with my bad 
constitution, — my stomach being very cold and moist, — 
had caused me to fall a prey to various ailments, such 
as pains in the stomach, frequent pains in the side, 



Bymptoms of gout, and, still worse, a low fever that was 
almost continuous; but I suffered especially from dis- 
order of the stomach, and from an unquenchable thirst. 
This evil — nay, worse than evil — condition left me 
nothing to hope for myself, except that death should 
terminate my troubles and the weariness of my life — a 
life as yet far removed from its natural end, though 
brought near to a close by my wrong manner of living. 

After every known means of cure had been tried, 
without affording me any relief, I was, between my 
thirty-fifth and fortieth years, reduced to so infirm a 
condition that my physicians declared there was but one 
remedy left for my ills — a remedy which would surely 
conquer them, provided I would make up my mind to 
apply it and persevere patiently in its use. 

That remedy was the temperate and orderly life, 
which, they assured me, possessed as great strength and 
efficacy for the accomplishment of good results, as that 
other, which was completely its opposite in every way, — 
I mean an intemperate and disorderly life, — possessed 
for doing harm. And of the power of these two opposite 
manners of living I should entertain no doubt; both by 
reason of the fact that my infirmities had been caused by 
disorder, — though, indeed, I was not yet reduced to such 
extremity that I might not be wholly freed from them by 
the temperate life, which counteracts the effects of an 
intemperate one, — and because it is obvious that this 
regular and orderly life preserves in health even per- 
sons of feeble constitution and decrepit age, as long 
as they observe it. It is equally manifest that the oppo- 
site life, an irregular and disorderly one, has the power 
to ruin, while in the strength of early manhood, the con- 
stitutions of men endowed with robustness, and to keep 
them sick for a great length of time. All this is in 



accordance with the natural law which ordains that 
contrary ways of living must necessarily produce con- 
trary effects. Art .itself, imitating in this the processes 
of nature, will gradually correct natural defects and im- 
perfections — a principle we find clearly exemplified in 
agriculture and other similar things. 

My physicians warned me, in conclusion, that if I 
neglected to apply this remedy, in a short time it would 
be too late to derive any benefit from it; for, in a few 
months, I should certainly die. 

I, who was very sad at the thought of dying at so 
early an age and yet was continually tormented by sick- 
ness, having heard these good and plausible reasons, grew 
thoroughly convinced that from order and from disorder 
must of necessity proceed the contrary effects which I 
have mentioned; and, fired with hope, I resolved that, in 
order to escape death and, at the same time, to be 
delivered from my sufferings, I would embrace the orderly 

Having been instructed by my physicians as to the 
method I was to adopt, I understood that I was not to 
partake of any foods, either solid or liquid, save such as 
are prescribed for invalids; and, of these, in small 
quantities only. To tell the truth, diet had been pre- 
scribed for me before; but it had been at a time, when, 
preferring to live as I pleased and being weary of such 
foods, I did not refrain from gratifying myself by eating 
freely of all those things which were to my taste. And 
being consumed, as it were, by fever, I did not hesitate to 
continue drinking, and in large quantities, the wines 
which pleased my palate. Of all this, of course, after the 
fashion of invalids, I never breathed a word to my 

After I had once taken a firm resolution that I would 



henceforth live temperately and rationally, and had 
realized, as I did, that to do so was not only an easy 
matter, but, indeed, the duty of every man, I entered upon 
my new course so heartily that I never afterward 
swerved from it, nor ever committed the slightest excess 
in any direction. Within a few days I began to realize 
that this new life suited my health excellently; and, per- 
severing in it, in less than a year — though the fact may 
seem incredible to some — I found myself entirely cured 
of all my complaints. 

Now that I was in perfect health, I began to consider 
seriously the power and virtue of order; and I said to 
myself that, as it had been able to overcome so many and 
such great ills as mine, it would surely be even more 
efficacious to preserve me in health, to assist my un- 
fortunate constitution, and to strengthen my extremely 
weak stomach. 

Accordingly, I began to observe very diligently 
what kinds of food agreed with me. I determined, in the 
first place, to experiment with those which were most 
agreeable to my palate, in order that I might learn if they 
were suited to my stomach and constitution. The prov- 
erb, ^'Whatever tastes good will nourish and strengthen/^ 
is generally regarded as embodying a truth, and is in- 
voked, as a first principle, by those who are sensually in- 
clined. In it I had hitherto firmly believed; but now I 
was resolved to test the matter, and find to what extent, 
if any, it was true. 

My experience, however, proved this saying to be 
false. For instance, dry and very cold wine was agree- 
able to my taste; as were also melons; and, among other 
garden produce, raw salads; also fish, pork, tarts, vege- 
table soups, pastries, and other similar articles. All of 
these, I say, suited my taste exactly, and yet I found they 



were hurtful to me. Thus having, by my own experience, 
proved the proverb in question to be erroneous, I ever 
after looked upon it as such, and gave up the use of that 
kind of food and of that kind of wine, as well as cold 
drinking. Instead, I chose only such wines as agreed 
with my stomach, taking of them only such a quantity as 
I knew it could easily digest; and I observed the same 
rule with regard to my food, exercising care both as to 
the quantity and the quality. In this manner, I ac- 
customed myself to the habit of never fully satisfying my 
appetite, either with eating or drinking — always leaving 
the table well able to take more. In this I acted accord- 
ing to the proverb: ^'l!^ot to satiate one's self with food 
is the science of health/' 

Being thus rid, for the reasons and in the manner 
I have given, of intemperance and disorder, I devoted my- 
self entirely to the sober and regular life. This had such 
a beneficial effect upon me that, in less than a year as I 
have just said, I was entirely freed from all the ills which 
had been so deeply rooted in my system as to have become 
almost incurable. 

Another excellent result which this new life effected 
in me was that I no longer fell sick every year — as I had 
always previously done while following my former sensual 
manner of life — of a strange fever, which at times had 
brought me near to death's door; but, under my new 
regimen, from this also was I delivered. 

In a word, I grew most healthy ; and I have remained 
so from that time to this day, and for no other reason 
than that of my constant fidelity to the orderly life. The 
unbounded virtue of this is, that that which I eat and 
drink, — always being such as agrees with my constitution 
and, in quantity, such as it should be, — after it has im- 
parted its invigorating elements to my body, leaves it 



without any difficulty and without ever generating within 
it any bad humors. Whence, following this rule, as I 
have already said, I have constantly been, and am now — 
thank God ! — most healthy. 

It is true, however, that besides these two very 
important rules which I have always so carefully ob- 
served, relative to eating and drinking, — namely, to take 
only the quantity which my stomach can easily digest and 
only the kinds that agree with it, — I have also been care- 
ful to guard against great heat and cold, as well as 
extreme fatigue or excesses of any nature; I have never 
allowed my accustomed sleep and rest to be interfered 
with ; I have avoided remaining for any length of time in 
places poorly ventilated; and have been careful not to 
expose myself too much to the wind or the sun ; for these 
things, too, are great disorders. Yet it is not a very 
difficult matter to avoid them; for, in a being endowed 
with reason, the desire of life and health possesses greater 
weight than the mere pleasure of doing things which are 
known to be hurtful. 

I have also preserved myself, as far as I have been 
able, from those other disorders from which it is more 
difficult to be exempt; I mean melancholy, hatred, and 
the other passions of the soul, which all appear greatly 
to affect the body. However, my efforts in this direc- 
tion have not been so successful as to preserve me wholly ; 
since, on more than one occasion, I have been subject to 
either one or the other of these disturbances, not to say 
all of them. Yet even this fact has proved useful to 
me; for my experience has convinced me that, in reality, 
these disorders have not much power over, nor can they 
do much harm to, the bodies of those whose lives are 
governed by the two rules I have already mentioned 
relative to eating and drinking. So I can say, with 



truth, that whosoever observes these two principal rules 
can suffer but little from any disorder. 

Galen,* the famous physician, bore testimony to this 
truth long before my time. He asserts that all other 
disorders caused him but very little harm, because he 
had learned to guard against those of excessive eating 
and drinking; and that, for this reason, he was never 
indisposed for more than a day. That this is indeed 
true, I can bear living testimony, corroborated by the 
statement of everybody who knows me; for my friends, 
well aware that I have often suffered exposure to cold, 
heat, and other similar disorders, have also seen me dis- 
turbed in mind on account of various misfortunes that 
have befallen me at different times. Nevertheless, they 
know that these troubles of mine have harmed me but 
little; but they can testify to the considerable damage 
which these very things have brought to others who were 
not followers of the temperate and regular life. 

Among these I may number a brother of mine, and 
several other near relatives; who, trusting to their good 
constitutions, did not follow the temperate life — a fact 
which was the cause of grave harm to them. Their 
perturbations of mind exercised great influence over 
their bodies; and such was the anxiety and melancholy 
with which they were overwhelmed when they saw me 
involved in certain highly important lawsuits brought 
against me by men of power and position, and so great 
was their fear that I should lose, that they were seized 
with the humor of melancholy, of which the bodies of 
those who live irregularly are always full. This humor 
so embittered their lives, and grew upon them to such 
a degree, that it brought them to the grave before their 

Yet I suffered nothing throughout it all ; for, in me, 

• See Note G 



this humor was not excessive. On the contrary, encour- 
aging myself, I tried to believe that God had permitted 
those lawsuits to be brought against me in order that my 
own strength and courage might better be made known, 
and that I should win them to my own advantage and 
honor; as in fact I eventually did, gaining a glorious 
and profitable victory. And the very great consolation 
of soul I then experienced had, in its turn, no power to 
harm me. 

V It is thus clear that neither melancholy nor any 

other disorder can seriously injure bodies governed by 
the orderly and temperate life. Nay, I shall go still 
further, and assert that even accidents have the power 
to do but little harm, or cause but little pain, to the fol- 
lowers of such a life. 

The truth of this statement I learned by my own 
v/ experience at the age of seventy. It happened, one day, 
while driving at a high rate of speed, I met with an acci- 
dent. My carriage was overturned, and was dragged quite 
a distance before the horses could be stopped. Being un- 
able to extricate myself, I was very badly hurt. My head 
and the rest of my body were painfully bruised, while 
one of my arms and one of my legs received especially 
severe injuries. 

I was brought home, and my family sent immediately 
for the doctors; who, when they had come and found me 
at my advanced age so shaken and in so bad a plight, 
could not help giving their opinion that I would die within 
three days. 

They suggested two things, however, as their only 
hopes for my recovery: one was bleeding, the other was 
purging; in order, as they said, to cleanse my system 
and thus prevent the alteration of the humors, which 
they expected at any moment to become so much dis- 



From the painting by Sir Godfrey Kneller 

National Portrait Gallery, London 
Photograph copyrighted by Walker and Gx:kerell 


turbed as to produce high fever. I, nevertheless, con- 
vinced that the regular life I had led for many years 
bad united, equalized, and disposed of all my humors so 
well that they could not possibly be subject to so great al- 
teration, refused either to be bled or to take any medicine. 
I merely had my arm and leg straightened, and per- 
mitted my body to be rubbed with certain oils which 
were recommended by the physicians as appropriate 
under the circumstances. It followed that, without using 
any other kind of remedy and without suffering any 
further ill or change for the worse, I entirely recovered — 
a thing, which, while fulfilling my own expectations, 
seemed to my doctors nothing less than miraculous. 

The unavoidable conclusion to be drawn from this 
is, that any man who leads the regular and temperate 
life, not swerving from it in the least degree where his 
nourishment is concerned, can be but little affected by 
other disorders or incidental mishaps. Whereas, on the 
other hand, I truly conclude that disorderly habits of 
living are those which are fatal. 

By a recent experience of mine — that is, as late as 
four years ago — this was proved to me unmistakably. 
Having been induced by the advice of my physicians, 
the admonitions of my friends and their loving exhorta- 
tions, to make a change in my manner of living, I found 
this change — consisting in an increase in the ordinary 
quantity of food — to be, in reality, a disorder of 
much greater importance than might have been expected ; 
since it brought on me a most severe illness. As the 
whole event is appropriate here, and because the knowl- 
edge of it may be of advantage to others, I shall now re- 
late it in all its particulars. 

My dearest relatives and friends, who love and 
cnerish me devotedly and are inspired by warm and true 



aflfection, observed how very little I ate, and, in unison 
with my physicians, told me that the food I took could 
not possibly be sufficient to sustain a man of an age so 
advanced as mine. They argued that I should not only 
preserve, but rather aim to increase, my strength and 
vigor. And as this could only be done by means of nourish- 
ment, it was absolutely necessary, they said, that I should 
eat rather more abundantly. 

I, on the other hand, brought forward my reasons 
to the contrary; namely, that nature is satisfied with 
little; that my spare diet had been found sufficient to 
preserve me in health all these many years; and that, 
with me, this abstemious habit had long since become 
second nature. I maintained, furthermore, that it was 
in harmony with reason that, as my age increased 
and my strength lessened, I should diminish, rather than 
Increase, the quantity of my food. This was true; since 
the digestive powers of the stomach were also growing 
weaker in the same proportion as my vigor became im- 
paired. Wherefore I could see no reason why I should in- 
crease my diet. 

To strengthen my argument, I quoted those two 
natural and obviously true proverbs: the one, that 
*^Who8oever wishes to eat much must eat little^' -^ which. 
means simply that the eating of little lengthens a man's 
life, and by living a long time he is enabled to eat a 
great deal; the other, that ^^The food from which a man 
abstains, after he has eaten heartily, is of more benefit 
to him than that which he has eaten/' 

However, neither of these wise sayings, nor any 
other argument I could offer, proved effectual; for my 
friends only pressed me the harder. Now, I did not 
like to appear obstinate or as though I considered myself 
more of a doctor than the very doctors themselves; 



moreover, I especially wished to please my family, who 
desired it very earnestly, believing, as they did, that 
such an increase in my ordinary allowance would be 
beneficial to my strength. So I at last yielded, and con- 
sented to add to the quantity of my food. This increase, 
however, was by only two ounces in weight; so that, 
while, with bread, the yolk of an egg, a little meat, and 
some soup, I had formerly eaten as much as would weigh 
in all exactly twelve ounces, I now went so far as to 
raise the amount to fourteen ounces; and, while I had 
formerly drunk but fourteen ounces of wine, I now began 
to take sixteen ounces. 

The disorder of this increase had, at the end of ten 
days, begun to afifect me so much, that, instead of being 
cheerful, as I had ever been, I became melancholy and 
choleric; everything annoyed me; and my mood was so 
wayward that I neither knew what to say to others nor 
what to do with myself. At the end of twelve days I 
was seized with a most violent pain in the side, which 
continued twenty-two hours. This was followed by a 
terrible fever, which lasted thirty-five days and as many 
nights without a moment's Interruption; although, to 
tell the truth, it kept constantly diminishing after the 
fifteenth day. Notwithstanding such abatement, how- 
ever, during all that period I was never able to sleep for 
even half of a quarter of an hour; hence, everybody be- 
lieved that I would surely die. However, I recovered — 
God be praised ! — solely by returning to my former rule 
of life; although I was then seventy-eight years of age, 
and it was just in the heart of the coldest season of a very 
cold year, and I as frail in body as could be. 

I am firmly convinced that nothing rescued me from 
death but the orderly life which I had observed for so 
many years; in all of which time no kind of sickness had 



ever visited me, unless I may call by that name some 
slight indisposition lasting a day or two only. The 
steady rule of life I had so long observed had not, as 
I have already said, allowed the generation of any evil 
or excessive humors in my body; or, if any had been 
formed, it had not permitted them to acquire strength 
or to become malignant, as is the case in the bodies of 
old persons who live without restraint. Consequently, as 
in my system there was none of that chronic viciousness 
of humors which kills men, but only that new condition 
brought about by my recent irregularity, this attack of 
illness — although indeed very serious — was not able to 
cause my death. 

This, and nothing else, was the means of my recov- 
ery; whence we may judge how great are the power and 
virtue of order, and how great is the power of disorder — 
the latter having been able, in a few days, to bring upon 
me a sickness which proved to be so terrible; whereas 
the regular and temperate life had maintained me in per- 
fect health during so many years. And it seems to me 
most reasonable that, if the world is maintained by order, 
and if our life is nothing else — so far as the body is 
concerned — but the harmony and order of the four ele- 
ments, it must follow that only through this same order 
can our life be sustained; while, on the other hand, it is 
ruined by sickness or dissolved by death, according as 
this order is not observed. It is through order that the 
sciences are more easily mastered; it is order that gives 
the victory to armies; and, finally, it is due to order that the 
stability of families, of cities, and even of governments, 
is maintained. 

Therefore I conclude that orderly living is the most 
I)Ositive law and foundation of a long and healthy life. 
We may say it is the true and only medicine; and who- 



ever considers all this deliberately must declare it is in- 
deed so. 

When a physician pays a visit to a sick man, he pre- 
scribes this as the very first condition of recovery, urging 
him, above all things, to live the orderly life. In like 
manner, when he bids good-bye to his patient upon his 
recovery, he recommends, as a means of preserving re- 
stored health, that he continue this orderly life. And 
there is no doubt that if the one so advised were to act 
accordingly, he would avoid all sickness in the future; 
because a well-regulated life removes the causes of disease. 
Thus, for the remainder of his days, he would have no 
further need either of doctors or of medicines. 

Moreover, by applying his mind to this matter which 
should so deeply concern him, he would become his own 
physician, and, indeed, the only perfect one he could have ; 
for it is true that "A man cannot he a perfect physician 
of any one save of himself alone/' 

The reason of this is that any man may, by dint of 
experimenting, acquire a perfect knowledge of his own 
constitution and of its most hidden qualities, and find 
out what food and what drink, and what quantities of 
each, will agree with his stomach. It is impossible to have 
equally accurate knowledge of these things in another 
person; since it is only with difficulty that we may dis- 
cover them in ourselves. And to learn them in our own 
cases, great attention, considerable time, and much study 
are required. Nor must we overlook the fact that various 
experiments are absolutely necessary; for there is not so 
great a variety of features as there is diversity of tempera- 
ments and stomachs among men. 

Who would believe, for instance, that wine over a 
year old would be hurtful to my stomach, while new wine 
would be suitable to it? and that pepper, which is com- 



monly considered a heating spice, would not act upon 
me as such, but that cinnamon would warm and help me? 
What physician could have informed me of these two 
hidden qualities of my nature; since I myself, after a 
long course of observation, have barely been able to note 
and find them? 

Therefore, I say again, from all these reasons it fol- 
lows that it is impossible for anyone to be a perfect 
physician of another. Since, then, a man can have no 
better doctor than himself, and no better medicine than 
the temperate life, he should by all means embrace that 

I do not mean to say, however, that in the knowledge 
and treatment of the diseases incurred by those who do 
not lead orderly lives, there is no need of the physician, 
or that he should not be valued highly. For, if a friend 
brings comfort when he comes to us in time of sickness, 
■ — though his visit be merely to manifest sympathy in 
our suffering and to encourage us to hope for recovery, — 
how much the more ought we to appreciate the physician 
who is a friend visiting us that he may be of service, 
and who promises to restore our health? Yet, when it 
comes to a question of preserving health, my opinion is 
that we should take, as our proper physician, the regular 
and temperate life. For, as we have seen, it is the true 
medicine of nature and best suited to man; it keeps him 
in health, even though he be of an unfortunate constitu- 
tion; it enables him to retain his strength to the age of 
a hundred years or more; and, finally, it does not suffer 
him to pass away through sickness or by any alteration 
of the humors, but simply by the coming to an end of 
the radical moisture, which is exhausted at the last. 
Learned men have often asserted that similar effects 
could be obtained by means of drinkable gold or the 



"elixir of life"; yet, though they have thus been sought 
by many, who have found them? 

Let us be truthful. Men are, as a rule, very sensual 
and intemperate, and wish to gratify their appetites and 
give themselves up to the commission of innumerable dis- 
orders. When, seeing that they cannot escape suffering 
the unavoidable consequence of such intemperance as often 
as they are guilty of it, they say — by way of excuse — 
that it is preferable to live ten years less and to enjoy 
one's life. They do not pause to consider what immense 
importance ten years more of life, and especially of 
healthy life, possess when we have reached mature age, 
the time, indeed, at which men appear to the best ad- 
vantage in learning and virtue — two things which can 
never reach their perfection except with time. To men- 
tion nothing else at present, I shall only say that, in 
literature and in the sciences, the majority of the best 
and most celebrated works we possess were written 
when their authors had attained ripe age, and during 
those same ten latter years for which some men, in order 
that they may gratify their appetites, say they do not 

Be this as it may, I have not chosen to imitate them ; 
on the contrary, I have chosen to live these ten years. 
Had I not done so, I should never have written the treat- 
ises, which, as I have been alive and well, I have been able 
to write during the last ten years; and that they will 
prove useful I have no doubt. 

Furthermore, the aforesaid followers of sensuality 
will tell you that the temperate and orderly life is an 
impossible one. To which I answer: Galen, great as a 
physician, led it, and chose it as the best medicine. So, 
likewise, did Plato, Cicero, Isocrates, and many other 
famous men in times past; whose names, lest I grow 



tedious, I shall forbear to mention. In our own time, 
we have seen Pope Paul Farnese [1468-1549] and Car- 
dinal Bembo [1470-1547] lead this life, and for this 
reason attain great age; the same may be said of our 
two Doges,* Lando [1462-1545] and Donato [1468-1553]. 
Besides these, we might mention many others in humbler 
states and conditions, not only in the cities, but in the 
country also ; for in every place there are to be found those 
who follow the temperate life, and always to their own 
considerable advantage. 

Seeing, therefore, that it has been practiced in the 
past, and that many are now practicing it, the temperate 
life is clearly proved to be one easily followed; and all 
the more so by reason of the fact that it does not call for 
any great exertion. Indeed — as is stated by the above- 
mentioned Cicero and by all who follow it — the only diffi- 
culty, if any there be, consists in making a beginning. 

Plato, himself living the temperate life, nevertheless 
declares that a man in the service of the State cannot 
lead it; because he is often compelled to suffer heat and 
cold and fatigues of various kinds, as well as other hard- 
ships, all contrary to the temperate life, and in themselves 
disorders. Yet, I repeat the assertion I have already 
made, that these disorders are not of any great conse- 
quence, and are powerless to cause grievous sickness or 
death, provided he who is obliged to suffer them leads 
an abstemious life, and is never guilty of any excess in 
eating or drinking. Excess is a thing which any man, 
even one who is in the service of the State, can very 
well avoid, and must, indeed, necessarily avoid; since by 
so doing he may rest assured, either that he will never 
incur those ills into which it would otherwise be easy 
for him to fall while committing disorders which are 
brought upon him in the discharge of his duties, or 
♦ See Note H 



that he will be able the more easily and quickly to free 
himself of those ills, should he, perchance, be overtaken 
by them. 

Here one might object — as some actually do — that a 
man accustomed to lead the temperate life, having always, 
while in sound health, partaken of food proper for sick 
persons, and in small quantities only, has nothing left 
to fall back upon in time of sickness. 

To this objection I shall answer, in the first place, 
that Nature, being desirous to preserve man as long as 
possible, teaches him what rule to follow in time of ill- 
ness ; for she immediately deprives the sick of their appe- 
tite in order that they may eat but little — for with 
little, as it has already been said. Nature is content. 
Consequently, whether the sick man, up to the time of 
his illness, has led the orderly or disorderly life, it is 
necessary that he should then partake of such food only 
as is suited to his condition, and, in quantity, less of it 
than he was wont to take when in health. Should he, 
when ill, continue to eat the same amount as when in 
health, he would surely die; while, were he to eat more, 
he would die all the sooner. For his natural powers, 
already oppressed with sickness, would thereby be bur- 
dened beyond endurance, having had forced upon them a 
quantity of food greater than they could support under 
the circumstances. A reduced quantity is, in my opinion, 
all that is required to sustain the invalid. 

Another answer to this objection — and a better 
one — is, that he who leads the temperate life can never 
fall sick, or at least can do so only rarely; and his 
indisposition lasts but a very short while. For, by 
living temperately, he removes all the causes of illness; 
and, having removed these, he thereby removes the 
effects. So the man who lives the orderly life should 



have no fear of sickness; for surely he has no reason 
to fear an effect, the cause of which is under his own 

Now, since the orderly life is, as we have seen, so 
useful, so potent, so beautiful, and so holy, it should be 
embraced and followed by every rational being; and this 
all the more from the fact that it is a life very easy to 
lead, and one that does not conflict with the career of 
any condition of man. 

No one need feel obliged to confine himself to the 
small quantity to which I limit myself; nor to abstain 
from fruit, fish, and other things which I do not take. 
For I eat but little ; and, my reason in doing so is that 
I find a little suflflcient for my small and weak stomach. 
Moreover, as fruit, fish, and similar foods disagree with 
me, I do not use them. Persons, however, with whom 
these do agree may — nay, should — partake of them ; for 
to such they are by no means forbidden. That which 
is forbidden to them and to everybody else, is to partake 
of food, even though it be of the kind suited to them, in 
a quantity so large that it cannot be easily digested ; and 
the same is true with regard to drink. But should there 
be a man to whom no kind of food is harmful, he, obviously, 
would not be subject to the rule of quality, but must 
needs regard only that of quantity — an observance which 
becomes a very easy matter. 

I do not wish to be told here that among those who 
lead the most irregular lives there are men, who, in spite 
of this fact, reach, healthy and robust, those furthest 
limits of life attained by the temperate; for this argu- 
ment is grounded upon a position uncertain and danger- 
ous, and upon a fact, moreover, which is of so rare 
occurrence that, when it does occur, it appears more a 
miracle than a natural result. Hence it should not per- 



suade us to live disorderly lives; for Nature was merely 
unwontedly liberal to those irregular livers, and very 
few of us can, or should, hope that she will be as bounti- 
ful to us. 

He who, trusting to his youth or his strong constitu- 
tion and perfect stomach, will not take proper care of 
himself, loses a great deal, and every day is exposed, in 
consequence of his intemperate life, to sickness and even 
death. For this reason I maintain that an old man who 
lives regularly and temperately, even though he be of 
poor constitution, is more likely to live than is a young 
man of perfect health if addicted to disorderly habits. 

There is no doubt, of course, that a man blessed 
with a strong constitution will be able to preserve him- 
self longer by living the temperate life than he who has 
a poor one; and it is also true that God and Nature can 
cause men to be brought into the world with so perfect 
constitutions that they will live for many years in health, 
without observing this strict rule of life. A case of 
this kind is that of the Procurator* Thomas Contarini 
of Venice [1454-1554], and another is that of the Knight 
Anthony Capodivacca of Padua [14657-1555]. But such 
instances are so rare that, it is safe to say, there is not 
more than one man in a hundred thousand of whom it 
will prove true. 

The universal rule is that they who wish not only 
constantly to enjoy perfect health and to attain their 
full limit of life, but finally to pass away without pain 
or difficulty and of mere exhaustion of the radical 
moisture, must lead the temperate life; for upon this 
condition, and no other, will they enjoy the fruits of 
such a life — fruits almost innumerable, and each one to 
be infinitely prized. Fop as sobriety keeps the humors 
of the body pure and mild, so, likewise, does it prevent 

* See Note I 



fumes from arising from the stomach to the head; and 
the brain of him who lives in this manner is, as a result, 
constantly in a clear condition, permitting him to main- 
tain entire the use of reason. Thus, to his own extreme 
comfort and contentment, is he enabled to rise above 
the low and mean considerations of this world to the 
high and beautiful contemplation of things divine. In 
this manner he considers, knows, and understands, as he 
never would have otherwise done, how great are the 
power, the wisdom, and the goodness of God. Descend- 
ing thence to the realms of Nature, he recognizes in her 
the daughter of the same God; and he sees and touches 
that which at any other age of his life, or with a less 
purified mind, he could never have seen or touched. 

Then, indeed, does he fully realize the ugliness of 
vice, into which those persons fall who have not learned 
to control their passions or to bridle those three importu- 
nate desires which seem, all three together, to be born 
with us in order to keep us forever troubled and dis- 
turbed — the desires of carnal pleasures, of honors, and 
of worldly possessions. These lusts appear to increase 
with age in those who are not followers of the temperate 
life; because, when passing through the years of earlier 
manhood, they did not relinquish, as they should have 
done, either sensuality or appetite, to embrace in their 
stead reason and self-control — virtues which followers of 
the temperate life never abandoned in their years of 

On the contrary, these more fortunate men, well 
knowing that such passions and desires are irrational, 
and having given themselves wholly to reason, were freed 
both of their tyranny and at the same time of all other 
vices, and drawn, instead, to virtue and good works. 
By this means, from the vicious men they had once been, 



they became true and upright. At length, in process of 
time and owing to extreme age, their dissolution and 
close of life are near at hand. Yet, conscious that they 
have, through God's special grace, abandoned the ways 
of vice and ever afterward followed those of virtue, 
and firmly hoping, moreover, through the merits of 
Jesus Christ our Redeemer, to die in His grace, they 
are not saddened by the thought of the approach of 
death, which they know to be unavoidable. 

This is especially the case when, loaded with 
honors and satiated with life, they perceive they have 
reached that age which scarcely any man — among the 
many thousands born into this world — who follows a 
different mode of living, ever attains. And the inevi- 
table approach of death grieves them so much the less 
in that it does not come suddenly or unexpectedly, with 
a troublesome and bitter alteration of the humors, and 
with sharp pains and cruel fever; but it comes most 
quietly and mildly. For, in them, the end is caused 
merely by the failure of the radical moisture; which, 
consumed by degrees, finally becomes completely exhaust- 
ed, after the manner of a lamp which gradually fails. 
Hence they pass away peacefully, and without any kind of 
sickness, from this earthly and mortal life to the heavenly 
and eternal one. 

O holy and truly happy Temperate Life, most 
worthy to be looked upon as such by all men! even as 
the other, disorderly and so contrary to thee, is sinful 
and wretched — as those who will but stop to reflect upon 
the opposite effects of both must clearly see. Thy 
lovely name alone should be sufficient to bring men to 
a knowledge of thee; for thy name. The Orderly and 
Temperate Life, is beautiful to speak; while how 
offensive are the words disorder and intemperance! 



Indeed, between the very mention of these two opposites 
lies the same difference as between those other two, angel 
and devil. 

I have so far given the reasons for which I aban- 
doned disorder and devoted myself wholly to the tem- 
perate life; also the manner in which I went about it 
that I might accomplish my end; together with the sub- 
sequent effects of this change ; and, finally, I have attempt- 
ed to describe the advantages and blessings which the 
temperate life bestows on those who follow it. 

And now, since some sensual and unreasonable men 
pretend that long life is not a blessing or a thing to be 
desired, but that the existence of a man after he has 
passed the age of sixty-five cannot any longer be called 
a living life, but rather should be termed a dead one, I 
shall plainly show they are much mistaken; for I have 
an ardent desire that every man should strive to attain 
my age, in order that he may enjoy what I have found — 
and what others, too, will find — to be the most beautiful 
period of life. 

For this purpose I wish to speak here of the pas- 
times and pleasures which I enjoy at this advanced sea- 
son of life. I desire, in this manner, openly to bear wit- 
ness to all mankind — and every person who knows me 
will testify to the truth of what I say — that the life which 
I am now living is a most vital one, and by no means a 
dead one; and that it is deemed, by many, a life as full 
of happiness as this world can give. 

Those who know me well will give this testimony, 
in the first place, because they see, and not without the 
greatest admiration and amazement, how strong I am; 
that I am able to mount my horse without assistance; 
and with what ease and agility I can not only ascend a 
flight of stairs, but also climb a whole hill on foot. 



They also see how I am ever cheerful, happy, and con- 
tented — free from all perturbations of the soul and from 
every vexatious thought; instead of these, joy and peace 
have fixed their abode in my heart, and never depart 
from it. Moreover, my friends know how I spend my 
time, and that it is always in such a manner that life 
does not grow tedious to me; they see that there is no 
single hour of it that I am not able to pass with the 
greatest possible delight and pleasure. 

Frequently I have the opportunity to converse with 
many honorable gentlemen; among them, a number who 
are renowned for their intellect and refinement, and dis- 
tinguished by their literary attainments, or are of excel- 
lence in some other way. When their conversation fails 
me, I enjoy the time in reading some good book. Hav- 
ing read as much as I care to, I write; endeavoring in 
this, as in what other manner soever I may, to be of 
assistance to others, as far as is in my power. 

All these things I do with the greatest ease and at 
my leisure, at their proper seasons, in my own residence ; 
which, besides being situated in the most beautiful quar- 
ter of this noble and learned city of Padua, is, in itself, 
really handsome and worthy of praise — truly a home, 
the like of which is no longer built in our day. It is so 
arranged that in one part of it I am protected against 
the great heat of summer, and in the other part against 
the extreme cold of winter; for I built the house accord- 
ing to the principles of architecture, which teach us how 
that should be done. In addition to the mansion, I en- 
joy my various gardens, beautified by running streams — 
retreats wherein I always find some pleasant occupation 
for my time. 

I have, besides this, another mode of recreating 
myself. Every year, in April and May, as well as in 


September and October, I spend a few days at a country- 
seat of mine, situated in the most desirable part of the 
Euganean Hills.* It is adorned with beautiful gardens 
and fountains; and I especially delight in its extremely 
comfortable and fine dwelling. In this spot I also take 
part, at times, in some easy and pleasant hunting, such 
as is suited to my age. 

For as many days again, I enjoy my villa in the 
plain. It is very beautiful, both on account of its fine 
streets converging into a large and handsome square, — 
in the center of which stands the church, a structure well 
befitting the place and much honored, — as also because 
it is divided by a large and rapid branch of the river 
Brenta, on either side of which spread large tracts of 
land, all laid out in fertile and carefully cultivated fields. 
This district is now — God be praised ! — exceedingly well 
populated; for it is, indeed, a very different place from 
what it was formerly, having once been marshy and of 
unwholesome atmosphere — a home fit rather for snakes 
than for human beings. But, after I had drained off 
the waters, the air became healthful and people flocked 
thither from every direction; the number of the inhabit- 
ants began to multiply exceedingly; and the country was 
brought to the perfect condition in which it is to-day. 
Hence I can say, with truth, that in this place I have 
given to God an altar, a temple, and souls to adore Him. 
All these are things which afford me infinite pleasure, 
solace, and contentment every time I return thither to 
see and enjoy them. 

At those same times every year, I go, as well, to 
revisit some of the neighboring cities, in order that I 
may enjoy the society of those of my friends whom I 
find there; for I derive great pleasure from conversing 
with them. I meet, in their company, men distinguished 

* See Note J 



for their intellect — architects, painters, sculptors, musi- 
cians, and agriculturists; for our times have certainly 
produced a considerable number of these. I behold, for 
the first time, their more recent works, and see again 
their former ones; and I always learn things which it 
is agreeable and pleasing to me to know. I see the palaces, 
the gardens, the antiquities, and, together with these, the 
squares, the churches, and the fortresses; for I endeavor 
to omit nothing from which I can derive either delight 
or information. 

My greatest enjoyment, in the course of my journeys 
going and returning, is the contemplation of the beauty 
of the country and of the places through which I travel. 
Some of these are in the plains ; others on the hills, near 
rivers or fountains; and all are made still more beauti- 
ful by the presence of many charming dwellings sur- 
rounded by delightful gardens. 

Nor are these my diversions and pleasures rendered 
less sweet and less precious through the failing of my 
sight or my hearing, or because any one of my senses is 
not perfect ; for they are all — thank God ! — most perfect. 
This is true especially of my sense of taste; for I now 
find more true relish in the simple food I eat, whereso- 
ever I may chance to be, than I formerly found in the 
most delicate dishes at the time of my intemperate life. 
Neither does the change of bed affect me in the slightest 
degree; for I always sleep soundly and quietly in what 
place soever I may happen to be — nothing disturbs me, 
so that my dreams are always happy and pleasant. 

With the greatest delight and satisfaction, also, do 
I behold the success of an undertaking highly important 
to our State; namely, the fitting for cultivation of its 
waste tracts of country, numerous as they were. This 
improvement was commenced at my suggestion; yet I 



had scarcely ventured to hope that I should live to see 
it, knowing, as I do, that republics are slow to begin 
enterprises of great importance. Nevertheless, I have 
lived to see it. And I was myself present with the 
members of the committee appointed to superintend the 
work, for two whole months, at the season of the greatest 
heat of summer, in those swampy places; nor was I ever 
disturbed either by fatigue or by any hardship I was 
obliged to incur. So great is the power of the orderly 
life which accompanies me wheresoever I may go! 

Furthermore, I cherish a firm hope that I shall live 
to witness not only the beginning, but also the comple- 
tion, of another enterprise, the success of which is no 
less important to our beloved Venice; namely, the pro- 
tection of our estuary, or lagoon, that strongest and most 
wonderful bulwark of my dear country. The preservation 
of this — and be it said not through self-complacency, 
but wholly and purely for truth's sake — has been advised 
by me repeatedly, both by word of mouth and by care- 
fully written reports to our Kepublic ; for as I owe to her, 
by right, the fullest means of assistance and benefit that 
I can give, so also do I most fondly desire to see her enjoy 
prolonged and enduring happiness, and to know that her 
security is assured. 

These are the true and important recreations, these 
the comforts and pastimes, of my old age, which is much 
more to be prized than the old age or even the youth of 
other men; since it is free, by the grace of God, from all 
the perturbations of the soul and the infirmities of the 
body, and is not subject to any of those troubles which 
woefully torment so many young men and so many languid 
and utterly worn-out old men. 

If to great and momentous things it be proper to 



compare lesser ones, or rather those, I should say, which 
are by many considered as hardly worthy of notice, I 
shall mention, as another fruit which I have gathered 
from the temperate life, that at my present age of eighty- 
three I have been able to compose a delightful comedy, 
full of innocent mirth and pleasant sayings — a manner of 
poem, which, as we all know, is usually the fruit and 
production of youth only, just as tragedy is the work of 
old age; the former, because of its grace and joyousness, 
is more in harmony with the early years of life, while the 
melancholy character of the latter is better suited to old 
age. Now, if that good old man, a Greek and a poet 
[Sophocles], was so highly commended for having written 
a tragedy at the age of seventy-three, and was, by reason 
of this deed, regarded as vigorous and sound minded, — 
although tragedy, as I have just said, is a sad and 
melancholy form of poetry, — why should I be deemed 
less fortunate or less hale than he, when I have, at an age 
greater than his by ten years, written a comedy, which, as 
everybody knows, is a cheerful and witty kind of com- 
position? Assuredly, if I am not an unfair judge of my- 
self, I must believe that I am now more vigorous and 
more cheerful than was that poet when burdened with ten 
years less of life. 

In order that nothing be wanting to the fullness of 
my consolation, to render my great age less irksome, or to 
increase my happiness, I am given the additional comfort 
of a species of immortality in the succession of my 
descendants. For, as often as I return home, I find 
awaiting me not one or two, but eleven, grandchildren, all 
the offspring of one father and mother, and all blessed 
with perfect health; the eldest is eighteen years of age, 
the youngest, two; and, as far as can now be judged, all 
are fond of study and inclined to good habits. Among 



the younger ones, I always enjoy some one as my little 
jester; for, truly, between the ages of three and five, the 
little folks are natural merrymakers. The older children 
I look upon as, in a certain way, my companions ; and, as 
Nature has blessed them with perfect voices, I am de- 
lighted with their singing, and with their playing on vari- 
ous instruments. Indeed, I often join in their singing; for 
my voice is now better, clearer, and more sonorous than 
it ever was before. 

Such, then, are the pastimes of my old age ; and from 
these it may readily be seen that the life I am leading is 
alive and not dead, as those persons say who are ignorant 
of what they are speaking. To whom, in order that I may 
make it clearly understood how I regard other people's 
manner of living, I truly declare that I would not be 
willing to exchange either my life or my great age with 
that of any young man, though he be of excellent consti- 
tution, who leads a sensual life ; for I well know that such 
a one is, as I have already stated, exposed every day — 
nay, every hour — to a thousand kinds of infirmity and 

This is a fact so obviously clear that it has no need of 
proof; for I remember right well what I used to do when 
I was like them. I know how very thoughtless that age 
is wont to be, and how young men, incited by their inward 
fire, are inclined to be daring and confident of themselves 
in their actions, and how hopeful they are in every 
circumstance; as much on account of the little experience 
they have of things past, as because of the certainty they 
feel of living long in the future. Thus it is that they 
boldy expose themselves to every kind of peril. Putting 
aside reason, and giving up the ruling of themselves to 
sensuality, they seek with eagerness for means by which 
to gratify every one of their appetites, without perceiving 
— unfortunate wretches! — that they are bringing upon 



'themselves the very things which are most unwelcome: 
not only sickness, as I have said many times, but also 

Of these evils, sickness is grievous and troublesome 
to suffer; and the other, which is death, is altogether 
unbearable and frightful — certainly to any man who has 
given himself up a prey to sensuality, and especially to 
young people, to whom it seems that they lose too much in 
dying before their time. And it is indeed frightful to 
those who reflect upon the errors with which this mortal 
life of ours is filled, and upon the vengeance which the 
justice of God is liable to take in the eternal punishment 
of the wicked. 

I, on the contrary, old as I am, find myself — thanks 
always to Almighty God ! — entirely free of both the one 
and the other of these two cares: of the one, sickness, 
because I know to a certainty I cannot ever fall sick, the 
holy medicine of the temperate life having removed from 
me forever all the causes of illness; and of the other, 
namely, of death, because I have learned, through a prac- 
tice of many years, to give full play to reason. Where- 
fore I not only deem it wrong to fear that which cannot 
be avoided, but I also firmly hope that, when the hour 
of my passing away is come, I shall feel the consoling 
power of the grace of Jesus Christ. 

Moreover, although I am fully aware that I, like 
everybody else, must come to that end which is inevitable, 
yet it is still so far away that I cannot discern it. For 
I am certain there is no death in store for me save that 
of mere dissolution; since the regular method of my life 
has closed all other avenues to the approach of death, and 
has prevented the humors of my body from waging against 
me any other war than that arising from the elements of 
which my body was originally formed. 



I am not so unwise as not to know that, having been 
born, I must die. Yet beautiful and desirable, indeed, is 
that death which Nature provides for us by way of the 
dissolution of the elements; both because she herself, 
having formed the bond of life, finds more easily the way 
to loose it, and also because she delays the end longer 
than would the violence of disease. Such is the death, 
which, without playing the poet, alone deserves the name 
of death, as arising from Nature's laws. It cannot be 
otherwise ; for it comes only after a very long span of life, 
and then solely as the result of extreme weakness. Little 
by little, very slowly, men are reduced to such a state that 
they find themselves no longer able to walk, and scarcely 
to reason; moreover, they become blind, deaf, and bent, 
and afflicted with every other kind of infirmity. But, so 
far as I am concerned, I feel certain that not only will my 
end, by the blessing of God, be very different, but also that 
my soul, which has so agreeable a habitation in my body, 
— where it finds nothing but peace, love, and harmony, not 
only between the humors, but also between the senses and 
reason, — rejoices and abides in it in a state of such com- 
plete contentment, that it is only reasonable to believe it 
will require much time and the weight of many years 
to force it to leave. Wherefore I may fairly conclude 
there is yet in store for me a long continuance of perfect 
health and strength, wherein I may enjoy this beautiful 
world, which is indeed beautiful to those who know how 
to make it so for themselves, as I have done. And I 
treasure the hope that, through the grace of God, I shall 
also be able to enjoy the other world beyond. All this is 
Bolely by means of virtue, and of the holy life of order 
which I adopted when I became the friend of reason and 
the enemy of sensuality and appetite — an adoption which 
may easily be made by any man who wishes to live as 
becomes a man. 



Now, if the temperate life is such a happy one, if its 
name is so beautiful and lovable, if the possession of it 
is so certain and so secure, there is nothing left for me to 
do except to entreat — since by oratorical persuasion I 
cannot attain my desire — every man endowed with gentle 
soul and gifted with rational faculties, to embrace this the 
richest treasure of life; for as it surpasses all the other 
riches and treasures of this world by giving us a long and 
healthy life, so it deserves to be loved, sought after, and 
preserved always by all. 

Divine Sobriety, pleasing to God, the friend of nature, 
the daughter of reason, the sister of virtue, the companion 
of temperate living; modest, agreeable, contented with 
little, orderly and refined in all her operations! From 
her, as from a root, spring life, health, cheerfulness, in- 
dustry, studiousness, and all those actions which are 
worthy of a true and noble soul. All laws, both divine 
and human, favor her. From her presence flee — as so 
many clouds from the sunshine — reveling, disorders, glut- 
tony, excessive humors, indispositions, fevers, pains, and 
the dangers of death. Her beauty attracts every noble 
mind. Her security promises to all her followers a grace- 
ful and enduring life. Her happiness invites each one, 
with but little trouble, to the acquisition of her victories. 
And, finally, she pledges herself to be a kind and benevo- 
lent guardian of the life of every human being — of the 
rich as well as of the poor; of man as of woman; of the 
old as of the young. To the rich she teaches modesty, 
to the poor thrift ; to man continence, to woman chastity ; 
to the old how to guard against death, and to the young 
how to hope more firmly and more securely for length of 
days. Sobriety purifies the senses; lightens the body; 
quickens the intellect ; cheers the mind ; makes the memory 
tenacious, the motions swift, the actions ready and prompt. 
Through her, the soul, almost delivered of its earthly 



burden, enjoys to a great extent its liberty; the vital 
spirits move softly in the arteries; the blood courses 
through the veins ; the heat of the body, always mild and 
temperate, produces mild and temperate effects; and, 
finally, all our faculties preserve, with most beautiful 
order, a joyous and pleasing harmony. 

O most holy and most innocent Sobriety, the sole 
refreshment of nature, the loving mother of human life, 
the true medicine both of the soul and of the body; how 
much should men praise and thank thee for thy courteous 
gifts! Thou givest them the means of preserving life in 
health, that blessing than which it did not please God we 
should have a greater in this world — life and existence, 
so naturally prized, so willingly guarded by every living 
creature ! 

As it is not my intention to make, at this time, a 
panegyric on this rare and excellent virtue, and in order 
that I may be moderate, even in its regard, I shall bring 
this treatise to a close ; not that infinitely more might not 
yet be said in its behalf than I have said already, but 
because it is my wish to postpone the remainder of its 
praises to another occasion. 




Wherein the author further dwells upon the vital necessity of 

temperate and regular habits of life as the only means 

of securing or preserving perfect health 

MY treatise, "La Vita Sohria" has begun, as I de- 
sired it should, to render great service to many of 
those persons born with weak constitutions, who, 
for this reason, feel so very sick whenever they commit 
the slightest excess, that they could not possibly feel worse 
— a thing, which, it must be allowed, does not happen to 
those who are born with robust constitutions. A number 
of these delicate persons, having read the above-mentioned 
treatise, have commenced to follow the regular mode of 
life therein recommended by me, convinced by experience 
of its beneficial influence. 

And now, in like manner, I desire to benefit those 
fortunately born with strong constitutions, who, relying 
too much upon that fact, lead irregular lives; in conse- 



quence of which, by the time they reach the age of sixty 
or thereabout, they become afflicted with various distress- 
ing ills. Some suffer with the gout, some with pains in the 
side, and others with pains in the stomach or with other 
complaints; yet with none of these would they ever be 
troubled were they to lead the temperate life. And, as 
they now die of these infirmities before reaching their 
eightieth year, they would, in the contrary case, live to 
the age of one hundred, the term of life granted by God, 
and by our mother Nature, to us her children; for it is 
but reasonable to believe the wish of this excellent mother 
is that every one of us should attain that natural limit, 
in order to enjoy the blessings of every period of life. 

Our birth is subject to the revolutions of the heavens, 
which have great power over it, especially with regard to 
the formation of good and bad constitutions. This is a 
condition which Nature cannot alter ; for, if she could, she 
would provide that all be born with robust constitutions. 
She hopes, however, that man, being gifted with intellect 
and reason, will himself supply by art that which the 
heavens have denied him; and that, by means of the tem- 
perate life, he may succeed in freeing himself of his bad 
constitution, and be enabled to enjoy a long life in the 
possession of unvarying perfect health. And there is no 
doubt that man can, by means of art, free himself partially 
from the control of the heavens, the common opinion being 
that, while they influence, they do not compel us. Hence 
have we that saying of the learned: "The tcdse man has 
power over the stars/' 

I was born with a very choleric disposition, insomuch 
that it was impossible for any person to deal with me. 
But I recognized the fact, and reflected that a wrathful 
man is no less than insane at times ; that is to say, when 



he is under the sway of his furious passions, he is devoid 
of both intellect and reason. I resolved, through the 
exercise of reason, to rid myself of my passionate tem- 
per ; and I succeeded so well that now — though, as I have 
said, I am naturally inclined to anger — I never allow 
myself to give way to it, or, at most, only in a slight 

Any man, who, by nature, is of a bad constitution, 
may similarly, through the use of reason and the help of 
the temperate life, enjoy perfect health to a very great 
age; just as I have done, although my constitution was 
naturally so wretched that it seemed impossible I should 
live beyond the age of forty. Whereas, I am now in my 
eighty-sixth year, full of health and strength; and, were 
it not for the long and severe illnesses with which I was 
visited so frequently during my youth and which were so 
serious that the physicians at times despaired of saving 
me, I should have hoped to reach the above-mentioned 
term of a hundred years. But, through those illnesses, I 
lost a large part of my radical moisture ; and, as this loss 
can never be repaired, reason teaches that it will be im- 
possible for me to reach the extreme term. Therefore, as 
I shall show later on, I never give the matter a thought. 
It is quite enough for me that I have lived forty-six years 
longer than I could reasonably have expected; and that, 
at such an advanced age as mine, all my senses and organs 
remain in perfect condition — even my teeth, my voice, 
my memory, and my heart. And as for my brain, it, espe- 
cially, is more active now than it ever was. Nor do these 
powers suffer any decline with the increase of years — a 
blessing to be attributed solely to the fact of my increas- 
ing the temperateness of my life. 

For, as my years multiply, I lessen the quantity of 
my food; since, indeed, this decrease is absolutely neces- 



sary and cannot be avoided. We cannot live forever; 
and, as the end of life draws near, man is reduced by 
degrees to that state in which he is no longer able to eat 
anything at all, save it may be to swallow, and that with 
difficulty, the yolk of an egg each day. Thus, as I am 
confident I shall do, he closes his career by mere disso- 
lution of the elements and without any pain or illness. 
This, certainly a most desirable lot, is one that will be 
granted to all, of what degree or condition soever, who 
lead the temperate life, whether they occupy a high 
position, or that of the middle class, or are found in the 
humblest ranks of life; for we all belong to one species, 
and are composed of the same four elements. 

And, since a long and healthy life is a blessing to be 
highly valued by man, as I shall hereafter explain, I 
conclude he is in duty bound to do all in his power to 
attain it. Nor should any hope to enjoy this blessing of 
longevity without the means of the temperate life, even 
though they may have heard it said that some who did 
not live temperately, but, on the contrary, ate much of 
every kind of food and drank large quantities of wine, 
have lived, in the enjoyment of health, to see their 
hundredth year. For, in holding out to themselves the 
hope that this good fortune will, in like manner, be vouch- 
safed to them also, they make two mistakes: in the first 
place, there is scarcely one man in a hundred thousand, 
who, living such a life, ever attains that happiness; and, 
secondly, the intemperate sicken and die in consequence 
of their manner of living, and can never be sure of death 
without ills or infirmity. 

Therefore, the only mode of living that will render 
you secure in the hope of long years in health consists 
in your adopting, at least after the age of forty, the 
temperate life. This is not difficult to observe; since so 



many in the past, as history informs us, have observed it; 
and many, of whom I am one, are doing so at the present 
time — and we are all men; and man, being a rational 
animal, does much as he wills to do. The orderly and 
temperate life consists solely in the observance of two 
rules relative to the quality and the quantity of our food. 
The first, which regards quality, consists in our eating 
and drinking only such things as agree with the stomach ; 
while the latter, which relates to quantity, consists in our 
using only such an amount of them as can be easily 
digested. Every man, by the time he has reached the age 
of forty, fifty, or, at any rate, sixty years, ought surely 
to be familiar with the conditions relating to the quality 
and quantity of food suited to his individual constitution ; 
and he who observes these two rules, lives the orderly and 
temperate life — a life which has so much virtue and 
power that it renders the humors of the body most perfect, 
harmonious, and united. Indeed, they are brought to so 
satisfactory a condition that it is impossible they should 
ever be disturbed or altered by any form of disorder which 
we may incur, such as suffering extreme heat or cold, 
extraordinary fatigue, loss of customary sleep, or any 
other disorder — unless carried to the last excess. 

In a word, the humors of the body, if it be governed 
by these two excellent rules relative to eating and drink- 
ing, resist weakening changes; thus fever, from which 
proceeds untimely death, is made impossible. It would 
seem, then, that every man should observe the orderly life ; 
for it is beyond doubt that whoever does not follow it, but 
lives a disorderly and intemperate life, is, on account of 
excessive eating and drinking as well as of each and every 
one of the other innumerable disorders, constantly ex- 
posed to the danger of sickness and of death. 



I admit it to be quite true that even those who are 
faithful to the two rules in regard to eating and drinking, 
— the observance of which constitutes the orderly and 
temperate life, — may, if exposed to some of the other 
disorders, be ailing for a day of two ; but their indisposi- 
tion will never be able to cause fever. They may, likewise, 
be influenced by the revolutions of the heavens. But 
neither the heavens, nor those disorders, are capable of 
disturbing the humors of those who follow the temperate 
life. This statement is but conformable to reason and 
nature ; since the disorders of eating and drinking are in- 
ternal, while all others are external only. 

But there are persons, who, notwithstanding they are 
advanced in years, are none the less sensual. These 
maintain that neither the quantity nor the quality of their 
food or drink in any way injures them; therefore they 
use, without discrimination, large quantities of different 
viands, and are equally indiscreet with regard to drink, 
as if ignorant in what region of the body the stomach is 
situated. Thus they give proof of their gross sensuality 
and of the fact that they are the friends of gluttony. To 
these be it set forth, that what they assert is not possible 
according to nature ; for whoever is born must, necessarily, 
bring into this world with him either a warm, or a 
cold, or else a moderate temperament. Now to say 
that warm foods agree with a warm temperament, that 
cold foods agree with a cold one, or that foods which 
are not of a moderate quality agree with a moderate tem- 
perament, is to state something naturally impossible. 
Therefore each one must choose the quality of food best 
suited to his constitution. Nor can those addicted to 
sensuality argue that, whenever they fall sick, they are 
enabled to free themselves of their sickness by clearing 
their systems with medicines and then observing a strict 



diet. It is very evident, thereby, that their trouble arises 
solely from indulgence in overmuch food, and that of a 
quality unsuited to their stomachs. 

There are other persons, likewise elderly, who declare 
that they are obliged to eat and drink a great deal to 
maintain the natural warmth of their bodies, which con- 
stantly diminishes as their years increase ; that they must 
have whatever food pleases their taste, whether hot, or 
cold, or temperate; and that, were they to live the tem- 
perate life, they would soon die. My answer thereto is 
that kind Mother Nature, in order that the aged, whom 
she loves, may be preserved to yet greater age, has so 
provided that they are able to live with very little food, 
even as I do; because the stomachs of the old and feeble 
cannot digest large quantities. They need not fear that 
their lives will be shortened by reason of their not taking 
much food; since, by using very little when sick, they 
recover their health — and we know how sparing is the 
diet by the use of which invalids are restored. If, by 
confining themselves to a scanty fare when ill, they are 
freed of their disorders, why should they fear that, while 
using the larger quantity of food permitted by the tem- 
perate life, they should not be able to sustain their lives 
when in perfect health? 

Others, again, say that it is better to suffer three 
or four times a year with their usual complaints, such 
as the gout, pains in the side, or other ills, rather than 
suffer the whole year round by not gratifying the appe- 
tite in the eating of those things which please the palate ; 
since they know that by the medicine of a simple diet 
they can speedily recover. To them I reply that, with the 
increase of years and the consequent decrease of natural 
heat, dieting cannot always have suflQcient power to undo 
the grave harm done by overeating. Hence they will 



necessarily succumb, at last, to these ailments of theirs; 
for sickness shortens life, even as health prolongs it. 

Others, again, insist that it is far better to live ten 
years less, rather than to deprive one's self of the 
pleasure of gratifying the appetite. To this, I would 
say that men endowed with fine talents ought to prize a 
long life very highly. For the balance, it matters little 
that they do not value it; and, as they only make the 
world less beautiful, it is as well, perhaps, that they 
should die. 

The great misfortune is that a refined and talented 
man should die before he has attained the natural limit 
of his life; since, if he is already a cardinal, when he 
has passed the age of eighty he will the more likely be- 
come pope; if he is a public official, how much greater is 
the possibility of his being called to the highest dignity 
in the state ; if a man of letters, he will be looked upon as 
a god on earth ; and the same is true of all others, accord- 
ing to their various occupations. 

There are others, again, who, having come to old age, 
when the stomach naturally possesses less digestive power, 
will not consent to diminish the quantity of their food; 
nay, on the contrary, they increase it. And since, eating 
twice in the day, they find they cannot digest the great 
amount of food with which they burden their stomachs, 
they decide that it is better to eat but once; for, relying 
upon the long interval thus allowed between meals, they 
believe themselves able to eat, at one time, the same quan- 
tity which they had previously divided into two meals. 
But, in doing this, they are guilty of a fatal error; for 
they eat such a quantity that the stomach is overloaded 
so grievously as to suffer and become sour, converting 
the excessive food into those bad humors which kill men 
before their time. 



I may say I have never known any person to live to 
a great age who indulged in that habit of life. Yet, all 
these persons would live to enjoy the blessings of extreme 
old age, if, as their years increase, they were but to reduce 
the quantity of their food and distribute it into several 
meals during the day, eating but little at a time ; for the 
stomachs of the aged cannot digest a great quantity of 
food. Thus it is that an old man becomes, in regard to 
his nourishment, more and more like a child, who has to 
eat many times during the day. 

Finally, we have those who say that while the tem- 
perate life may indeed be able to preserve a man in health, 
it cannot prolong his life. To these I answer that ex- 
perience proves the contrary to be true; for we know of 
many persons, who, in times past, have prolonged their 
lives in this manner, and it may be observed that I, too, 
have thus prolonged mine. It cannot, whatever may be 
said, be objected that sobriety shortens the life of man as 
sickness unquestionably does. Therefore it is more con- 
ducive to the preservation of the radical moisture that a 
man be always healthy than that he be often sick. Hence 
we may reasonably conclude that the holy temperate life 
is the true mother of health and of longevity. 

O most blessed and holy Temperate Life, so profit- 
able to man, and so helpful ! Thou enablest him to pro- 
long his life to ripe old age, wherein he becomes wise 
and hearkens to reason, — that faculty which is man's 
peculiar property, — by means of which he is freed from 
sensuality, reason's worst enemy, and its bitter fruits, the 
passions and anxieties of the mind. Thou deliverest him 
also from the fearful thought of death. Oh, how much 
am I, thy faithful follower, indebted to thee! for it is 
through thee I enjoy this beautiful world — beautiful, 



indeed, to him who knows how, by thy effectual help, to 
make it so for himself, as thou hast enabled me to do ! 

At no other period of my existence, even in my 
sensual and disorderly youth, could I make life so beauti- 
ful ; and yet, in order to enjoy every portion of it, I spared 
neither expense nor anything else. For I found that the 
pleasures of those years were, after all, but vain and filled 
with disappointments ; so that I may say I never knew the 
world was beautiful until I reached old age. 

O truly Happy Life ! Thou, besides all the aforesaid 
manifold blessings thou grantest to thy old disciple, hast 
brought his stomach to so good and perfect a condition 
that he now relishes plain bread more than he ever did 
the most delicate viands in the years of his youth. All 
this thou dost because thou art reasonable, knowing that 
bread is the proper food of man when accompanied by 
a healthful appetite. This natural company, so long as 
a man follows the temperate life, he may be sure will 
never fail him; since, he eating but little, the stomach 
is but lightly burdened and has always, within a short 
time, a renewed desire for food. For this reason plain 
bread is so much relished. This I have proved by my own 
experience to be true; and I declare that I enjoy bread 
so much that I should be afraid of incurring the vice of 
gluttony, were it not that I am convinced it is necessary 
we should eat of it and that we cannot partake of a more 
natural food. 

And thou. Mother Nature, so loving to thy old man, 
preserving him so long! Thou, besides providing that 
with little food he may maintain himself, hast moreover 
shown him — to favor him more and in order that his 
nourishment may be more profitable to him — that, while 
in youth he partook of two meals a day, now, that he 



has attained old age, his food must be divided into four ; 
since, thus divided, it will be more easily digested by his 
stomach. In this way thou showest him that, as in youth 
he enjoyed the pleasures of the table but twice a day, now, 
in his old age, he may enjoy them four times, provided, 
however, he diminishes the quantity of his food as he ad- 
vances in age. 

As thou showest me, so do I observe. In consequence 
of which, my spirits, never oppressed by much food, but 
simply sustained, are always cheerful; and their energy 
is never greater than after meals. For I feel, when I 
leave the table, that I must sing, and, after singing, that 
I must write. This writing immediately after eating does 
not cause me any discomfort; nor is my mind less clear 
then than at other times. And I do not feel like sleep- 
ing; for the small amount of food I take cannot make me 
drowsy, as it is insufficient to send fumes from the stomach 
to the head. 

Oh, how profitable it is to the old to eat but little! 
I, accordingly, who am filled with the knowledge of this 
truth, eat only what is enough to sustain my life ; and my 
food is as follows: 

First, bread; then, bread soup or light broth with 
an eggf or some other nice little dish of this kind; of 
meats, I eat veal, kid, and mutton; I eat fowls of all 
kinds, as well as partridges and birds like the thrush. I 
also partake of such salt-water fish as the goldney and 
the like; and, among the various fresh- water kinds, the 
pike and others. 

As all these articles of food are suited to old people, 
the latter must be satisfied with them and not demand 
others; for they are quite suflftcient, both in number and 
variety. Old persons, who, on account of poverty, cannot 
afford to indulge in all of these things, may maintain 



their lives with bread, bread soup, and eggs — foods that 
certainly cannot be wanting even to a poor man, unless 
he be one of the kind commonly known as good-for- 

Yet, even though the poor should eat nothing but 
bread, bread soup, and eggs, they must not take a greater 
quantity than that which can be easily digested; for they 
must, at all times, remember that he who is constantly 
faithful to the above-mentioned rules in regard to the quan- 
tity and quality of his food, cannot die except by simple 
dissolution and without illness. 

Oh, what a difference there is between the orderly 
and a disorderly life! The former blesses a man with 
perfect health and, at the same time, lengthens his life; 
while the latter, on the other hand, after bringing infirmi- 
ties upon him, causes him to die before his time. 

O thou unhappy and wretched disorderly life, thou 
art my sworn enemy ; for thou knowest how to do nothing 
save to murder those who follow thee! How many of 
my dearest relatives and friends hast thou snatched from 
me, because, for thy sake, they would not listen to my 
advice! But for thee, I might at this moment be enjoy- 
ing them! 

Yet thou hast not succeeded in destroying me, though 
right willingly wouldst thou have done so; but, in spite 
of thee, I am still living and have reached this advanced 
age. I rejoice in my eleven grandchildren by whom I am 
surrounded, and who are all of bright intellect and noble 
nature, healthy, beautiful, fond of their studies, and in- 
clined to good habits. Them, if I had listened to thee, I 
should never have enjoyed. Nor, had I followed thee, 
should I ever have experienced the pleasure now afforded 
me in the comfortable and beautiful habitations of my 
own creation, which I have surrounded with attractive 



gardens that have required great length of time to be 
brought to their present state of perfection. 

No! for thy nature is to murder all those who follow 
thee, before they have the joy of witnessing the comple- 
tion of their houses and gardens. Whilst I, to thy con- 
fusion, have already enjoyed the comfort of mine for many 

Thou art a vice so pestilential that thou spreadest 
sickness and corruption throughout the world; for which 
reason I have determined to use every means in my power 
to deliver mankind from thy clutches, at least as far as 
I am able. I have resolved to work against thee in such 
a manner that my eleven grandchildren, after me, shall 
make thee known for that most wretched and vicious 
thing thou really art — the mortal enemy of all men who 
are born. 

I am astonished, indeed, that men gifted with fine 
intellect — for there are many such — and who have 
reached a high position either in literature or some other 
occupation, should not embrace and follow the temperate 
life, at least when they come to the age of fifty or sixty 
and are troubled with any of the above-mentioned dis- 
orders; for, by following the temperate life, they could 
easily deliver themselves from these ailments, which, later 
on, if allowed to make further progress, will become in- 
curable. I do not wonder so much that some young men 
— those of them, at least, whose lives and habits are con- 
trolled by sensuality — should neglect sobriety; but cer- 
tainly, after a man has passed the age of fifty, his life 
should be altogether guided by reason, which teaches that 
the gratification of the tastes and appetites means in- 
firmity and death. 

If this pleasure of the taste were a lasting one, we 
might have some patience with those who are so ready 



to yield to it But it is so short-lived that it is no sooner 
begun than ended; while the infirmities which proceed 
from it are of very long duration. Moreover, to the man 
who follows the temperate life it is assuredly a great satis- 
faction to know, when he has finished eating, that the 
food he has taken will never cause him any sickness, but 
will keep him in perfect health. 

I have now completed the short addition I wished to 
make to my treatise, "La Vita Sohria" — an addition 
based on new arguments, though, at the same time, it is 
one of few words. For I have observed that long dis- 
courses are read by a few only, while brief ones are read 
by many; and I most heartily desire that this be read by 
many, in order that it may prove useful to many. 








In which he gives mankind a rule of life that will, if followed, 
assure a healthy and happy old age 

THE intellect of man truly partakes, in some degree, 
of the divine prerogatives ; for it was, indeed, some- 
thing divine which led him to find a way of convers- 
ing, by means of writing, with another who is at a dis- 
tance. And a thing altogether divine, also, is that natural 
faculty which enables him, when thus separated, to behold, 
with the eye of thought, his beloved friend ; even as I now 
see you. Sir, and address to you this my discourse on a 
pleasant and profitable subject. 

• See Note K ♦• See Note L 



It is true that what I shall write will be upon a mat- 
ter which has already been treated at other times, but 
never by any man at the age of ninety-one — at which 
time of life I am now writing. On account of my age, 
I cannot be at fault ; for the more my years multiply, the 
more my strength also increases. And I, who am well 
aware from what cause this proceeds, feel compelled to 
make it known, and to show that all mankind may possess 
an earthly paradise after the age of eighty — a paradise 
with which I myself am blessed. But one cannot attain 
it otherwise than by means of holy self-restraint and the 
temperate life — two virtues much loved by the great God, 
because they are the enemies of sensuality and the friends 
of reason. 

Now, Sir, to begin my discourse, I shall tell you that 
I have, within the past few days, been visited by a number 
of excellent professors who lecture in our University — 
doctors of medicine as well as philosophy. These gentle- 
men are all well acquainted with my age, and with my 
manner and habits of living, and know how full I am of 
cheerfulness and health. They know, too, that all my 
senses are in perfect condition — as also are my memory, 
my heart, and my mind — and that this is equally true 
of even my voice and my teeth. Nor are they ignorant 
of the fact that I constantly write, and with my own hand, 
eight hours a day, and always on subjects profitable to 
the world; and, in addition to this, that I walk and sing 
for many other hours. 

Oh, how beautiful and sonorous has my voice become ! 
If you could but hear me sing my prayers to the accom- 
paniment of the lyre, as King David sang to that of the 
harp, I assure you that you would derive great pleasure. 

Among other things, my visitors, the doctors, said: 



"It is certainly marvelous that you are able to write so 
much, and upon subjects which require such thought and 
spirit." Concerning which, Sir, to tell you the truth, one 
can form no idea of the extreme pleasure and satisfaction 
I experience in writing thus; and, when I reflect that my 
writings will assuredly be useful to mankind, you can 
readily understand how great is my delight. 

In fine, they said that I could by no means be con- 
sidered an old man. For all my actions are those of 
youth, and not at all like the actions of other old persons ; 
who, when they have arrived at the age of eighty, are almost 
helpless, besides having to suffer either from pains in the 
side or from some other complaint. In order to rid them- 
selves of these troubles, they are continually subject to 
medical treatment or surgical operations, all of which are 
a great annoyance. Should there be any among them so 
fortunate as not to suffer from these infirmities, it will 
be found that their senses have begun to fail — either that 
of sight, or that of hearing, or some other one. We know 
of old persons who cannot walk, and of others who can- 
not use their hands because they tremble; and, if one of 
the number is so favored as to be free from the above 
troubles, it will be observed that he does not have a per- 
fect memory, or else that his heart or his mind is weak. 
In a word, there is not one among them who enjoys a 
cheerful, happy, and contented life, such as mine is. 

But, besides these many advantages which I pos- 
sess, there is a special one which caused them to wonder 
extremely, because it is so very uncommon and contrary 
to nature; and that is, that I should have been able to 
keep myself alive during the past fifty years, nothwith- 
standing the presence of an extreme difficulty — one of a 
mortal character — that has always been present in me. 



This difficulty, which cannot be remedied, because it is 
a natural and hidden property of my constitution, con- 
sists in this : Every year, from the beginning of July and 
throughout the whole of August, I cannot drink any 
kind of wine soever, be it of what variety of grape or 
of what country it may; for, during the whole of those 
two months, wine, besides being very unfriendly to my 
palate, disagrees with my stomach. So that, being with- 
out my milk, — for wine is truly the milk of the aged, — 
I am left without anything to drink ; for waters, in what- 
ever way they may be doctored or prepared, have not 
the virtue of wine, and fail to relieve me. My stomach 
becomes very much disordered, and I can eat but very 
little in consequence. This scarcity of food and lack of 
wine reduces me, by the latter part of August, to a con- 
dition of extreme mortal weakness. Neither does strong 
chicken broth nor any other remedy benefit me in the least ; 
so that, through weakness alone, — not by any ailment, 
— I am brought very near a dying condition. It was evi- 
dent to my visitors that, if the new wine, which I am al- 
ways careful to have ready every year by the beginning 
of September, were not then forthcoming, the delay would 
be the cause of my death. 

But they were yet more amazed at the fact that this 
new wine should have power to restore, in two or three 
days, the strength of which the old wine had deprived 
me — a thing of which they had themselves been eye-wit- 
nesses, and which could not be believed except by those 
who have seen it. 

"Some of us," the doctors went on to say, 'Tiave 
observed your strange case for many years in succes- 
sion; and, for the past ten years, it has been our opinion 
that, considering what a mortal difficulty you are under 
as well as your increasing age, it would be impossible 



for you to live more than a year or two longer. Yet we 
see, this year, that your weakness is less than in previous 

This blessing, associated with so many others, forced 
them to the conclusion that the union of all these many 
favors was a special grace bestowed on me at birth by 
Nature or by the heavens. In order to prove this conclu- 
sion true, — though as a matter of fact it is false, because 
not based upon good reasons and solid foundations, but 
simply upon their own opinions, — they found themselves 
under the necessity of giving utterance to many beautiful 
and lofty things with the finest eloquence. Eloquence, Sir, 
in men of intellect, verily has great power; so much so, 
indeed, that it will persuade some people to believe things 
that are not and can not be true. Their words, however, 
were to me a great pleasure and quite an amusing pastime ; 
for it is certainly highly entertaining to listen to such 
talk from men of their intelligence. 

And here I was granted another satisfaction ; namely, 
the thought that advanced age, by reason of its experience, 
is able to confer learning upon the unlearned. This is 
not diflScult to understand ; for length of days is the real 
foundation of true knowledge — by means of which, alone, 
I was made aware of the erroneousness of their conclu- 
sions. Thus you see. Sir, how apt men are to err in form- 
ing their opinions when these are not based upon solid 

In order, therefore, to undeceive them as well as to 
be of other service to them, I told them plainly that their 
conclusion was wrong, and that I would convince them 
of this by clearly proving that the blessing which I enjoy 
is not a special one, conferred upon me alone, but a gen- 
eral one and such as every man may possess if he 



choose. For I am only an ordinary mortal. Composed, 
like everybody else, of the four elements, I have — in 
addition to existence — sense, intellect, and reason. With 
the two latter faculties every one of us is born, the great 
God having willed that man. His creature whom He loves 
so well, should possess these gifts and blessings ; for thus 
has He raised him above all the other creatures which 
have sense only, in order that, by means of these faculties, 
he may preserve himself in perfect health for many years. 
Therefore mine is a universal blessing, granted by God, 
and not by Nature or the heavens. 

Man is, in his youth, however, more a sensual than 
a rational creature, and is inclined to live accordingly. 
Yet, when he has arrived at the age of forty or fifty, he 
certainly ought to realize that he has been enabled to 
reach the middle of life solely through the power of youth 
and a young stomach, those natural gifts which have 
helped him in the ascent of the hill. Now he must bear 
in mind that, burdened with the disadvantage of old age, 
he is about to descend it toward death. And, since old 
age is exactly the opposite of youth, just as disorder is 
the reverse of order, it becomes imperative for him to 
change his habits of life with regard to eating and drink- 
ing, upon which a long and healthy life depends. As his 
earlier years were sensual and disorderly, the balance of 
them must be exactly the contrary, reasonable and or- 
derly ; because without order nothing can be preserved — 
least of all, the life of man. For it is well proved by ex- 
perience that, while disorder does grievous harm, order 
is constantly beneficial. 

It is necessarily impossible, in the nature of things, 
that a man should be determined to satisfy his taste and 
appetite, and yet, at the same time, commit no excesses; 
so, to be free from these excesses, I adopted the orderly 



and temperate life when I had once reached the state of 
manhood. I shall not deny that, in the beginning, I ex- 
perienced some difficulty in abandoning an intemperate 
life after leading it for so many years. But, in order that 
I might be able to follow the temperate life, I prayed to 
God that He would grant me the virtue of self-restraint, 
knowing well that, when a man has firmly resolved to 
realize a noble enterprise and one which he is convinced 
he can accomplish, — though not without difficulty, — it 
is made much easier by bending all his energy upon doing 
it and actually setting to work. Spurred by this resolve, 
I began, little by little, to draw myself away from my 
disorderly life, and, little by little, to embrace the orderly 
one. In this manner I gave myself up to the temperate 
life, which has not since been wearisome to me ; although, 
on account of the weakness of my constitution, I was com- 
pelled to be extremely careful with regard to the quality 
and quantity of my food and drink. 

However, those persons who are blessed with strong 
constitutions may make use of many other kinds and qual- 
ities of food and drink, and partake of them in greater 
quantities, than I do; so that, even though the life they 
follow be the temperate one, it need not be as strict as 
mine, but much freer. 

After they had heard my arguments and found them 
grounded, as they were, upon solid foundations, my vis- 
itors admitted that all I had said was true. The youngest 
of them, however, while ready to grant that the graces 
and advantages which I enjoyed were general, contended 
that I had had at least one special blessing vouchsafed 
me, in being able to relinquish so easily the kind of life 
I had so long followed, and to accustom myself to lead 
the other; because, although he had found this change, 
by his own experience, to be feasible, to him it had been 
very difficult. 



I replied that, being a man like himself, I had also 
found it no easy matter to pass from the one kind of life 
to the other; but I knew it was unworthy of a man to 
abandon a noble undertaking simply on account of the 
difl&culties encountered. For, the more obstacles a man 
meets and overcomes, the greater is the honor he gains 
and the more pleasing his action in the sight of God. 

Our Maker, having ordained that the life of man 
should last for many years, is desirous that everyone 
should attain the extreme limit; since He knows that, 
after the age of eighty, man is wholly freed from the bitter 
fruits of sensuality and is replenished with those of holy 
reason. Then, of necessity, vices and sins are left behind. 
Wherefore it is that God wishes we should all live to 
extreme age; and He has ordained that they who do so 
reach their natural limit of earthly existence, shall ter- 
minate it without pain or sickness and by simple dissolu- 
tion. Such is, indeed, the natural way of departing from 
this world, when we leave the mortal life to enter upon 
the immortal one — as it will be my lot to do ; for I feel 
certain that I shall die while singing my prayers. 

The awful thought of death does not trouble me in 
the least, although I realize, on account of my many years, 
I am nigh to it ; for I reflect that I was bom to die, and 
that many others have departed this life at a much younger 
age than mine. 

Nor am I disturbed by that other thought, a com- 
panion of the foregoing one; namely, the thought of the 
punishment, which, after death, must be suffered for sins 
committed in this life. For I am a good Christian; and, 
as such, I am bound to believe that I shall be delivered 
from that punishment by virtue of the most sacred blood 
of Christ, which He shed in order to free us, His faithful 
servants, from those pains. Oh, what a beautiful life is 
mine, and how happy my end will be! 



Having heard me out, the young man replied that, 
in order to gain the numerous and great advantages I 
had gained, he was determined to embrace the temperate 
life I had so long practiced. He further declared he had 
already gained a highly important one ; namely, that as he 
had always had a lively wish to live to a very great age, 
so now he desired to attain it as quickly as possible, in 
order to enter sooner into possession of the delights of 
that most enjoyable season. 

The great longing I had to converse with you, Eever- 
end Sir, has forced me to write at considerable length; 
while that which I still wish to say to you obliges me to 
continue my letter. But I shall be brief. 

Dear Sir, there are some very sensual men who 
claim that I have only wasted time, as well as labor, in 
composing my treatise, "La Vita Sobria" and the addi- 
tions I have made to it; for, as they allege, I am exhorting 
men to adopt habits to which it is impossible for them 
to conform. They assert that my treatise will be as vain 
as the "Republic'' by Plato, who labored to write of 
a system which was impracticable — that, as his work is 
useless, so also will mine be. 

I wonder much at such a line of argument on the 
part of intelligent men; for, if they have read my 
treatise, they must have clearly seen that I had led the 
temperate life for many years before writing anything 
regarding it. Nor should I ever have written, had not 
my own experience convinced me, without a shadow of 
doubt, not only that it is a practicable life, and such as 
all men may easily lead, but, furthermore, that it profits 
greatly because it is a life of virtue. I am so much 
indebted to it myself that I felt obliged to write of it, 
in order that I might make it known to others as the 
inestimable blessing it truly is. I know of many persons, 



who, after reading my treatise, have adopted that life; 
and I know, too, that in past ages, as we read in history, 
there were many who were remarkable as its followers. 
Hence the objection which is urged against Plato's "Re- 
puhli&' certainly does not hold good in the case of my 
treatise, ^^La Vita Sobria" But these sensual men, 
enemies of reason and friends of intemperance, will only 
receive their just deserts if, while seeking to gratify their 
every taste and appetite, they incur painful sicknesses, and 
meet, as many such do, with a premature death. 


1561 -1626 

From the painting by Paul Van Somer 

National Portrait Gallery, London 
Photograph copyrighted by Walker and Cocterell 



The Birth and Death of Man 


In which, by the authority of his own experience, the aged 

author strives to persuade all mankind to follow the 

orderly and temperate life, in order that they, too, 

may reach an advanced age, in which to enjoy all 

those g^ces and blessings that God in His 

goodness is pleased to grant to mortals 

IN order that I may not fail in the discharge of my 
duty — a law to which every man is bound — and, at 
the same time, that I may not forego the pleasure 
I invariably experience in being of service to my 
fellow-men, I have determined to write and to make 
known to those persons who do not know them — because 
unacquainted with me — the things which are known and 
seen by those who frequent my company. Certain facts 
I shall now relate will, to some, appear diflQcult of belief 



and well-nigh impossible; nevertheless, since they are all 
true and to be seen in reality, I will not refrain from 
writing of them, that the knowledge of them may benefit 
the world at large. 

In the first place, I shall say that I have, through 
the mercy of God, reached the age of ninety-five; that I 
find myself, in spite of my great age, healthy, strong, 
contented, and happy; and that I continually praise the 
Divine Majesty for so much favor conferred upon me. 
Moreover, in the generality of other old men whom I see, 
no sooner have they arrived at the age of seventy, than 
they are ailing and devoid of strength; melancholy; and 
continually occupied with the thought of death. They 
fear, from day to day, that their last hour will come; so 
much so, that it is impossible for anything to relieve 
their minds of that dread. For my part, I do not ex- 
perience the least trouble at the idea of death; for, as I 
shall later on explain more clearly, I cannot bring my- 
self to give it so much as a thought. 

In addition to this, I shall demonstrate, beyond 
question, the certainty I entertain of living to the age of 
one hundred years. But, in order that I may proceed 
methodically, I shall begin with the consideration of man 
at his birth, studying him thence, step by step, through 
every stage of life until his death. 

I say, then, that some human beings are ushered into 
this world with so little vitality that they live but a very 
few days, months, or years, as the case may be. The 
cause of this want of vitality it is impossible to know to 
a certainty, whether it arises from some imperfection of 
the father or mother, from the revolutions of the heavens, 
or from some defect in Nature. This latter, however, 
can happen only when she is subject to the influence of 
the heavens ; for I could never persuade myself to believe 



that Nature, being the mother of all, could be so ungener- 
ous to any of her children. Hence, not being able to 
ascertain the real cause, we must be content to accept the 
facts as we daily observe them. 

Others are born with greater vitality, yet with feeble 
and poor constitutions. Of these, some live to the age 
of ten, others to twenty, others even to thirty or forty 
years ; but they never reach old age. 

Others, again, begin life with perfect constitutions 
and live to old age; but the health of the greater part of 
them is, as I have said before, in a very wretched con- 
dition. They are themselves the sole cause of this; 
simply because, foolishly relying too much upon their 
perfect natures, they are unwilling, under any circum- 
stances, to modify their manner of living when passing 
from youth to old age, as though they still possessed 
their early vigor unimpaired. Indeed, they expect to be 
able to continue to live as disorderly a life, after they 
have begun the descent of the hill, as they did throughout 
the years of their youth; since they never for a moment 
consider that they are approaching old age and that 
their constitutions have lost their former vigor. Nor do 
they ever pause to reflect that their stomachs have lost 
their natural heat, and that they should, by reason of this 
circumstance, be more careful with regard to quality in 
the selection of their food and drink, and also with regard 
to the quantity thereof, to lessen it gradually. But the 
latter they refuse to do; instead of which, they attempt 
to augment it, claiming — as an excuse — that, since a man 
loses his strength with advancing age, the deficiency must 
be made good by a greater quantity of nourishment, as it 
is that which keeps him alive. 

These persons, however, argue very incorrectly. 
For, as the natural heat of man gradually diminishes with 



the increase of age, it becomes necessary for him to de- 
crease gradually, in proportion, the amount of his food 
and drink; since nature requires very little to maintain 
the life of an old man. Although reason should convince 
them that this is the case, yet these men refuse to admit 
it, and pursue their usual life of disorder as heretofore. 
Were they to act differently, abandoning their irregular 
habits and adopting orderly and temperate ones, they 
would live to old age — as I have — in good condition. 
Being, by the grace of God, of so robust and perfect consti- 
tutions, they would live until they reached the age of a 
hundred and twenty, as history points out to us that others 
— born, of course, with perfect constitutions — have done, 
who led the temperate life. 

I am certain I, too, should live to that age, had it 
been my good fortune to receive a similar blessing at my 
birth; but, because I was born with a poor constitution, 
I fear I shall not live much beyond a hundred years. Yet 
all those who are born delicate, like myself, would no 
doubt reach, in perfect health, the age of a hundred and 
more years, — as I feel will be the case with me, — were 
they to embrace the temperate life as I have done. 

This certainty of being able to live for many years 
seems to me of great value. Indeed, it should be highly 
prized; since no man can be sure of even one single hour 
of existence unless he be one of those who follow the 
temperate life. These alone have solid ground for their 
hopes of a long life — hopes founded upon good and true 
natural reasons which have never been known to fail. 
For it is impossible, in the regular course of nature, that 
he who leads the orderly and temperate life should ever 
fall sick; nor, though death is eventually certain, need 
he ever die a premature or an unnatural death. It is 
not possible that he should die earlier than is occasioned 



by the natural failure of the body; for the temperate life 
has the power to remove every cause of sickness; and 
without a cause, sickness cannot develop. When the cause 
is removed, sickness likewise is removed; and sickness 
being removed, an unnatural death is out of the question. 

It is beyond doubt that the orderly and temperate 
life has the power and strength to remove the causes 
of illness; for it is that which changes, for the better, 
the humors of the body upon which — according as they 
are good or bad — man's health or sickness, life or death, 
depends. If these humors were bad, the temperate life 
has the natural power to make them better and, in time, 
perfect; and, being able to make them so, it has the further 
power to maintain, equalize, and unite them so that they 
cannot become separated, agitated, or altered, and cause 
cruel fevers and, finally, death. 

It is true, however, — and this no one can reasonably 
deny, — that even though they be made ever so good, yet, 
as time progresses, consuming all things, these humors 
of the body will also be consumed and dissolved at last. 
When they are thus dissolved, man must die a natural 
death, — without pain or illness, — just as, in the course 
of time, I shall pass away when the humors of my body 
shall be finally consumed. 

They are now, however, all in good condition. It 
is not possible they should be otherwise ; for I am healthy, 
cheerful, and contented; my appetite is so good that I 
always eat with relish; my sleep is sweet and peaceful; 
and, moreover, all my faculties are in a condition as 
perfect as ever they were; my mind is more than ever 
keen and clear; my judgment sound; my memory tena- 
cious ; my heart full of life ; and my voice — that which is 
wont to be the first thing in man to fail — is so strong and 
sonorous that, in consequence, I am obliged to sing aloud 



my morning and evening prayers, which I had formerly 
been accustomed to say in a low and hushed tone. 
These are true and certain indications that the humors 
of my body are all good and can never be consumed save 
by time alone, as everybody who is well acquainted with 
me declares. 

Oh, how glorious will have been this life of mine ! so 
full of all the happiness that can be enjoyed in this world, 
and so free — as it truly is — from the tyranny of sensu- 
ality, which, thanks to my many years, has been driven 
out by reason ! For, where reason reigns, no place is left 
for sensuality, nor for its bitter fruits, the passions and 
anxieties of the mind accompanied by a well-nigh endless 
train of afflicting and sorrowful thoughts. 

As for the thought of death, it can have no place in 
my mind; for there is nothing sensual in me. Even the 
death of any of my grandchildren, or of any other rela- 
tives or friends, could never cause me trouble except the 
first instinctive motion of the soul, which, however, soon 
passes away. How much less could I lose my serenity 
through any loss of worldy wealth ! Many of my friends 
have witnessed this to their great astonishment. How- 
ever, this is the privilege of those only who attain extreme 
age by means of the temperate life and not merely through 
the aid of a strong constitution ; it is the former, not the 
latter, who enjoy every moment of life, as I do, amid con- 
tinual consolations and pleasures. 

And who would not enjoy life at an age when, as I 
have already shown, it is free from the innumerable mis- 
eries by which we all know the younger ages are afflicted ! 
How wholly mine, in its happiness, is free from these 
miseries, I shall now set forth. 

To begin, the first of joys is to be of service to one's 
beloved country. Oh, what a glorious enjoyment it is, 
what a source of infinite pleasure to me, that I am able 



to show Venice the manner in which she may preserve 
her valuable lagoon and harbor so that they will not alter 
for thousands of years to come ! Thus she will continue 
to bear her wonderful and magnificent name of Virgin 
City, which indeed she is, there being no other like her 
in all the world; while her high and noble title. Queen 
of the Sea, will, by this means, become still more exalted. 
I can never fail to fully rejoice and take great comfort 
in this. 

There is another thing which affords me much con- 
tentment; it is, that I have shown this Virgin and Queen 
how she may be abundantly supplied with food, by pre- 
paring for cultivation — with returns much above the ex- 
pense — large tracts of land, marshes as well as dry plains, 
all hitherto useless and waste. 

Another sweet and unalloyed satisfaction I experience 
is, that I have pointed out to Venice how she may be made 
stronger, although she is now so strong as to be almost 
impregnable; how her loveliness may be increased, al- 
though she is now so beautiful; how she may be made 
richer, although now exceedingly wealthy ; and how her air, 
which is now so good, may be made perfect. 

These three pleasures afford me the greatest possible 
satisfaction, because based wholly upon my desire to be 
useful to others. And who could find a drawback to them, 
since in reality none exists ! 

Having lost a considerable portion of my income 
through misfortunes befallen my grandchildren, it is an- 
other source of happiness to me that, merely through the 
activity of my thoughts which do not sleep, without any 
bodily fatigue, and with but little labor of the mind, I 
found a sure and unerring way of repairing — yea, of 
doubly remedying — that loss, by means of true and scien- 
tific farming. 



Yet one more gratification afforded me is the abun- 
dant evidence I receive that my treatise, "La Vita Sohria," 
which I composed to be of service to others, is really doing 
much good. I can entertain no doubt of this ; since some 
tell me, by word of mouth, that they have derived great 
benefit from it — and it is evident they have ; while others 
acknowledge by letter that, after God, it is to me they 
owe their very lives. 

Another great consolation enjoyed by me is that of 
writing with my own hand — and, to be of use, I write a 
great deal — on various topics, especially upon architect- 
ure and agriculture. 

Yet another of my pleasures consists in having the 
good fortune to converse with various men of fine and 
high intellect, from whom, even at my advanced age, I 
never fail to learn something. Oh, what a delight it is 
to feel that, at this great age of mine, it is no labor what- 
soever to learn, no matter how great, high, and difGicult 
the subjects may be ! 

Furthermore, though it is a thing which to some may, 
seem impossible and in no manner to be believed, I wish 
to say that, in this extreme age of mine, I enjoy two 
lives at the same time: one, the earthly, which I possess 
in reality; the other, the heavenly, which I possess in 
thought. For thought truly has the power of imparting 
happiness when it is grounded upon something we are 
confident we shall enjoy, as I do firmly hope and certainly 
believe I shall enjoy an eternal life through the infinite 
goodness and mercy of the great God. I enjoy this earthly 
existence through the excellence of the orderly and tem- 
perate life, which is so pleasing to His Majesty because 
it is full of virtue and the enemy of vice. At the same 
time I rejoice in the heavenly one, which God has given 



me now to enjoy in thought; for He has taken from me 
the power to think of it differently, so sure am I to 
possess it some day. 

And I hold that our departure from this world is 
not death, but merely a passage which the soul makes 
from this earthly life to the heavenly one, immortal and 
infinitely perfect — a belief which I am sure cannot but 
be the tiue one. 

Hence my thoughts are raised to heights so sublime 
that they cannot descend to the consideration of such 
worldly and common occurrences as the death of the body, 
but, rather, are wholly absorbed in living the heavenly 
and divine life. In this manner it comes to pass that, 
as I said before, 1 incessantly enjoy two lives. And I 
shall not feel any regret on account of the great happiness 
I have in this earthly life, when that life shall cease; for 
then my joy will be boundless, knowing, as I do, that the 
ending of this life is but the beginning of another, glorious 
and immortal. 

Who could ever find weariness in a lot so truly 
blessed and happy as the one I enjoy! Yet this happi- 
ness would be the portion of every man if he would but 
lead a life similar to the one I have led. And, assuredly, 
it is in every man's power to lead such a life; for I am 
nothing but a man and not a saint, only a servant of 
God, to Whom the orderly life is well-pleasing. 

There are many men who embrace a holy and beau- 
tiful, spiritual and contemplative life, full of prayer. Oh, 
were they faithful followers also of the orderly and tem- 
I)erate life, how much more pleasing in the sight of God 
would they render themselves, and how much more beau- 
tiful would they make the world ! They would be esteemed 
as highly as were those, who, in ancient times, added the 
practice of the temperate life to that of the spiritual. 



Like them, they would live to the age of one hundred 
and twenty; and, by the power of God, they would per- 
form countless miracles, just as those others did. Fur- 
thermore, they would constantly enjoy a healthy, happy, 
and cheerful life; whereas they are at present, for the 
greater part, unhealthy, melancholy, and dissatisfied. 

Since some of them believe that these afflictions are 
sent them by the great God for their salvation, — that they 
may, in this life, make reparation for their sins, — I can- 
not refrain from saying that, according to my judgment, 
these persons are mistaken; for I cannot believe God 
deems it good that man, whom He so much loves, should 
be sickly, melancholy, and discontented. I believe, on the 
contrary, that He wishes him to be healthy, cheerful, and 
contented, precisely as those holy men in ancient times 
were; who, becoming ever better servants of His Majesty, 
performed the many and beautiful miracles of which we 

Oh, what a lovely and enjoyable place this world 
would be — even more so than it was in the olden times ! 
For there are now many Orders which then did not exist, in 
which, if the temperate life were followed, we might see so 
many venerable old men; and a wonderful sight it would 
be. Nor would they, in the practice of the temperate life, 
deviate from the regular rules of living enjoined by their 
Orders; on the contrary, they would improve upon them. 
For every Order allows its members, in the way of fare, 
to eat bread and drink wine, and, in addition to that, some- 
times to take eggs. Some Orders allow even meat, besides 
vegetable soups, salads, fruits, and pastries made with 
eggs — foods which often harm them, and to some are a 
cause of death. They make use of these because allowed 
to do so by their Orders, thinking, perhaps, they would be 
doing wrong were they to abstain from them. But it 
would not be wrong at all; indeed, they would act more 



properly, if, after they have passed the age of thirty, they 
were to give up the use of such foods, and live solely upon 
bread dipped in wine, bread soup, and eggs with bread — 
the true diet to preserve the life of a man of poor consti- 
tution. It would be, after all, a rule less severe than that 
of those holy men of old in the deserts; who, subsisting 
entirely upon wild fruits and roots of herbs, and drinking 
nothing but pure water, lived, as I have said, many years, 
and were always healthy, cheerful, and contented. So, 
also, would these of our own day be, were they to follow 
the temperate life. And, at the same time, they would 
more easily find the way to ascend to heaven, which is al- 
ways open to every faithful Christian ; for thus it was our 
Redeemer left it when He descended thence coming upon 
earth that He might shed His precious blood to deliver us 
from the tyrannical servitude of the devil — all of which 
He did through His infinite goodness. 

In conclusion, I wish to say that, since old age is — 
as, in truth, it is — filled and overflowing with so many 
graces and blessings, and since I am one of the number 
who enjoy them, I cannot fail — not wishing to be wanting 
in charity — to give testimony to the fact, and to fully 
certify to all men that my enjoyment is much greater than 
I can now express in writing. I declare that I have no 
other motive for writing but my hope that the knowledge 
of so great a blessing as my old age has proved to be, will 
induce every human being to determine to adopt this 
praiseworthy orderly and temperate life, in favor of which 
I ceaselessly keep repeating, Live, live, that you may be- 
come better servants of God ! 



Luxury ! thou curst hy Heaven's decree, 
How ill exchang'd are things like these for thee ! 
How do thy potions, with insidious joy, 
Diffuse their pleasures only to destroy! 
Kingdoms hy thee, to sickly greatness grown, 
Boast of a florid vigor not their own: 
At every draught more large and large they grow, 
A bloated mass of rank unwieldy woe; 
Till sapp'd their strength, and every part unsound, 
Down, down they sink, and spread a ruin round. 

— Oliver Goldsmith. 




"History of Life and Death' 

▲17D FBOM 


"Health and Long Life' 

The first physicians hy debauch were made; 
Excess began and sloth sustains the trade. 
By chase our long-lived fathers eam'd their food; 
Toil strung the nerves, and purified the blood; 
Bui we their sons, a pamper' d race of men. 
Are dwindled down to threescore years and ten. 
Better to hunt in fields for health unbought 
Than fee the doctor for a navLseous draught. 
The wise for cure on exercise depend: 
God never made his work for man to mend. 

— John Dryden. 



"History of Life and Death' 



o THE Present Age, and Postbbity. 
Greeting : 

I have hope, and wish, that it [the "History 
of Life and Death"] may conduce to a common 
good ; and that the nobler sort of physicians will advance 
their thoughts, and not employ their time wholly in the 
sordidness of cures ; neither be honored for necessity only ; 
but that they will become coadjutors and instruments of 
the Divine omnipotence and clemency in prolonging and 
renewing the life of man. For though we Christians do 
continually aspire and pant after the land of promise, yet 

•See Note C 



it will be a token of God's favor toward us in our journey- 
ings through this world's wilderness, to have our shoes and 
garments — I mean those of our frail bodies — little worn 
or impaired. 

Fb. St. Albans. 

Men fear death, as children fear to go into the dark ; 
and as that natural fear in children is increased with 
tales, so is the other. Certainly, the contemplation of 
death, as the wages of sin, and passage to another world, 
is holy and religious; but the fear of it, as a tribute due 
unto nature, is weak. It is as natural to die as to be born. 
He that dies in an earnest pursuit, is like one that is 
wounded in hot blood ; who, for the time, scarce feels the 
hurt ; and therefore a mind fixed and bent upon somewhat 
that is good, doth avert the dolors of death. It will be 
hard to know the ways of death, unless we search out and 
discover the seat or house, or rather den, of death. 

Truth, which only doth judge itself, teacheth that the 
inquiry of truth, which is the love-making or wooing of it, 
the knowledge of truth, which is the presence of it, and 
the belief of truth, which is the enjoying of it, is the sover- 
eign good of human nature. Certainly, it is heaven upon 
earth, to have a man's mind move in charity, rest in provi- 
dence, and turn upon the poles of truth. 

Man, the servant and interpreter of nature, does and 
understands as much as he has actually or mentally 
observed of the order of nature — himself, meanwhile, in- 
closed around by the laws of nature ; he neither knows nor 
can do more. The limit, therefore, of human power and 
knowledge is in the faculties, with which man is endowed 
by nature for moving and perceiving, as well as in the 
state of present things. These faculties, though of them- 
selves weak and inept, are yet capable, when properly and 



regularly managed, of setting before the judgment and use 
things most remote from sense and action, and of overcom- 
ing greater difficulty of works and obscurity of knowledge 
than any one hath yet learned to wish. 

Men see clearly, like owls, in the night of their own 
notions; but, in experience, as in the daylight, they wink 
and are but half-sighted. I should wish to have Para- 
celsus and Severinus for criers, when, with such clamors, 
they convoke men to the suggestions of experience. 

It appears to me that men know not either their ac- 
quirements or their powers, and trust too much to the 
former, and too little to the latter. Hence it arises, that, 
either estimating the arts they have become acquainted 
with at an absurd value, they require nothing more; or, 
forming too low an opinion of themselves, they waste their 
powers on trivial objects, without attempting anything 
to the purpose. The sciences have thus their own pillars, 
fixed as it were by fate; since men are not roused to pene- 
trate beyond them either by zeal or hope. All sciences 
seem, even now, to flourish most in their first authors — 
Aristotle, Galen, Euclid, and Ptolemy; succession having 
not effected, nay, barely attempted, any great matter. Men, 
therefore, are to be admonished to rouse up their spirits, 
and try their strengths and turns, and not refer all to the 
opinions and brains of a few. Even those who have been 
determined to try for themselves, to add their support to 
learning, and to enlarge its limits, have not dared entirely 
to desert received opinions nor to seek the springhead of 
things. Yet there have not been wanting some, who, with 
greater daring, have considered everything open to them ; 
and, employing the force of their wit, have opened a pas- 
sage for themselves and their dogmas by prostrating and 
destroying all before them. 



Power to do good is the true and lawful end of aspir- 
ing; for good thoughts — though God accept them — 
toward men are little better than good dreams, except they 
be put in act. 

The greatest trust between man and man is the trust 
of giving counsel. Heraclitus saith well in one of his 
enigmas, "Dry light is ever the hest" ; and certain it is, that 
the light that a man receiveth by counsel from another, is 
drier and purer than that which cometh from his own un- 
derstanding and judgment, which is ever infused and 
drenched in his affections and customs ; so there is as much 
difference between the counsel that a friend giveth, and 
that a man giveth himself, as there is between the counsel 
of a friend and of a flatterer ; for there is no such flatterer 
as is a man's self, and there is no such remedy against 
flattery of a man's self as the liberty of a friend. The best 
preservative to keep the mind in health is the faithful ad- 
monition of a friend. It is a strange thing to behold what 
gross errors and extreme absurdities many do commit, for 
want of a friend to tell them of them, to the great damage 
both of their fame and fortune. 

The help of good counsel is that which setteth busi- 
ness straight. The wisest princes need not think it any 
diminution to their greatness, or derogation to their suf- 
ficiency, to rely upon counsel. Solomon hath pronounced 
that, "In counsel is stability/^ Solomon's son found the 
force of counsel, as his father saw the necessity of it. 

It hath been noted that those who ascribe openly too 
much to their own wisdom and policy, end unfortunate. 
He that questioneth much, shall learn much and content 
much — especially if he apply his questions to the skill of 
the persons whom he asketh ; for he shall give them occa- 
sion to please themselves in speaking, and himself shall 
continually gather knowledge. Set before thee the best 



examples ; for imitation is a globe of precepts. Ask counsel 
of both times: of the ancienter time what is best, and of 
the latter time what is fittest. Do not drive away such as 
bring thee information, as meddlers ; but accept of them in 
good part. Always, when thou changest thine opinion or 
course, profess it plainly, and declare it, together with the 
reasons that move thee to change. 

This is a true and grave admonition, that we expect 
not to receive things necessary for life and manners from 
philosophical abstractions, but from the discreet obser- 
vation and experience, and the universal knowledge, of 
the things of this world. The shame it is, that men, hav- 
ing the use of so many arts, are not able to get unto 
themselves such things as nature itself bestows upon many 
other creatures ! Whosoever doth thoroughly consider the 
nature of man, may be in a manner the contriver of his 
own fortune, and is born to command. 

It is an ancient saying and complaint that ''Life is 
short and art long" ; wherefore it behooveth us, who make 
it our chiefest aim to perfect arts, to take upon us the 
consideration of prolonging man's life — God, the author 
of all truth and life, prospering our endeavors. Only the 
inquiry is difficult how to attain this blessing of long life, 
so often promised in the old law ; and so much the rather, 
because it is corrupted with false opinions and vain re- 
ports. Verily, it were a great sin against the golden 
fortune of mankind, the pledge of empire, for me to turn 
aside to the pursuit of most fleeting shadows. One bright 
and radiant light of truth must be placed in the midst, 
which may illuminate the whole, and in a moment dispel 
all errors. Certain feeble and pale lamps are not to be 
carried round to the several corners and holes of errors 
and falsehoods. 

We ingeniously profess that some of those things 



which we shall propound, have not been tried by us by 
way of experiment, — for our course of life doth not per- 
mit that, — but are derived, as we suppose, upon good 
reasons, out of our principles and grounds, — of which 
some we set down, others we reserve in our mind, — and 
are, as it were, cut and digged out of the rock and mine 
of Nature herself. Nevertheless, we have been careful, 
and that with all providence and circumspection, — seeing 
the Scripture saith of the body of man, that it is more 
worth than raiment, — to propound such remedies as may 
at least be safe, if peradventure they be not fruitful. 

All things in living creatures are in their youth re- 
paired entirely ; nay, they are for a time increased in quan- 
tity, bettered in quality, so as the matter of reparation 
might be eternal, if the manner of reparation did not fail. 
But this is the truth of it : there is in the declining of age 
an unequal reparation. By which it comes to pass, that, 
in process of time, the whole tends to dissolution ; and even 
those very parts which, in their own nature, are with much 
ease reparable, yet, through the decay of the organs of 
reparation, can no more receive reparation, but decline, 
and in the end utterly fail. And the cause of the termina- 
tion of life is this: the spirits, like a gentle flame, con- 
tinually preying upon bodies, conspiring with the outward 
air, — which is ever sucking and drying of them, — do, in 
time, destroy the whole fabric of the body, as also the 
particular engines and organs thereof, and make them un- 
able for the work of reparation. These are the true ways 
of natural death, well and faithfully to be revolved in our 
minds ; for he that knows not the way of nature, how can 
he succor her or turn her about? 

We see the reign or tyranny of custom, what it is. 
Men's thoughts are much according to their inclination; 
their discourse and speeches according to their learning 



and infused opinions; but their deeds are after as they 
have been accustomed. Therefore, as Machiavel well 
noteth, there is no trusting to the force of nature, nor to 
the bravery of words, except it be corroborate by custom. 
Nature is often hidden, sometimes overcome, seldom ex- 
tinguished. But custom, only, doth alter and subdue 
nature. He that seeketh victory over his nature, let him 
not set himself too great nor too small tasks; for the first 
will make him dejected by often failing, and the second 
will make him a small proceeder — though by often pre- 
vailing. Where nature is mighty and, therefore, the vic- 
tory hard, the degrees had need be : first, to stay and arrest 
nature in time — like to him that would say over the four- 
and-twenty letters when he was angry ; then, to go less in 
quantity — as if one should, in forbearing wine, come from 
drinking healths to a draught at a meal ; and, lastly, to dis- 
continue altogether ; but if a man have the fortitude and 
resolution to enfranchise himself at once, that is the best. 
But let not a man trust his victory over his nature too far ; 
for nature will lie buried a great time, and yet revive upon 
the occasion, or temptation; like as it was with JEsop's 
damsel, turned from a cat to a woman, who sat very de- 
murely at the board's end till a mouse ran before her. 

The predominancy of custom is everywhere visible; 
insomuch as a man would wonder to hear men profess, 
protest, engage, give great words, and then do just as they 
have done before, as if they were dead images and engines, 
moved only by the wheels of custom. A man's nature runs 
either to herbs or weeds; therefore let him seasonably 
water the one, and destroy the other. Neither is the 
ancient rule amiss, to bend nature as a wand to a contrary 
extreme, whereby to set it right; understanding it where 
the contrary extreme is no vice. Many examples may be 
put of the force of custom, both upon mind and body; 



therefore, since custom is the principal magistrate of 
man's life, let men by all means endeavor to obtain good 
customs. Certainly, custom is most perfect when it be- 
ginneth in young years; this we call education, which is, 
in effect, but an early custom. 

To procure long life, the body of man must be con- 
sidered. The ancients seemed not to despair of attaining 
the skill, by means and medicines, to put off old age, and 
to prolong life ; but this to be numbered rather among such 
things, having been once happily attained unto, are now — 
through men's negligence and carelessness — utterly per- 
ished and lost, than among such as have been always 
denied and never granted ; for they signify and show that 
the divine bounty is not wanting unto men in the ob- 
taining of such gifts. Surely every medicine is an innova- 
tion ; and he that will not apply new remedies must expect 
new evils ; for time is the greatest innovator. And if time, 
of course, alter things to the worse, and wisdom and coun- 
sel shall not alter them to the better, what shall be the 

The nature of the spirits is as the uppermost wheel, 
which turneth about the other wheels in the body of man ; 
and, therefore, in the intention of long life, that ought to 
be first placed. Age is nothing of itself, being only the 
measure of time ; that which causeth the effect is the native 
spirit of bodies, which sucketh up the moisture of the 
body, and then, together with it, flieth forth; and the air 
ambient, which multiplieth itself upon the native spirits 
and juices of the body, and preyeth upon them. The spirits 
are the master workmen of all effects in the body; this 
is manifest by consent, and by infinite instances. The 
actions or functions which are in the several members, 
follow the nature of the members themselves, — attrac- 
tion, retention, digestion, assimilation, separation, excre- 
tion, perspiration, even sense itself, — according to the 



propriety of the several organs ; yet none of these actions 
would ever have been actuated, but by the vigor and pres- 
ence of the vital spirit, and heat thereof. The operation 
upon the spirits, and their waxing green again, is the 
most ready and compendious way to long life. 

It conduceth unto long life, and to the more placid 
motion of the spirits, which thereby do less prey and 
consume the juice of the body, either that men's actions 
be free and voluntary, or, on the other side, that their 
actions be full of regulation and commands within them- 
selves; for then the victory and performing of the com- 
mand giveth a good disposition to the spirits, especially 
if there be a proceeding from degree to degree; for then 
the sense of the victory is the greater. An example of 
the former of these is in a country life ; and of the latter 
in monks and philosophers, and such as do continually 
enjoin themselves. The spirits, to keep the body fresh 
and green, are so to be wrought and tempered that they 
may be in substance dense, not rare; in heat strong, not 
eager; in quantity sufficient for the offices of life, not 
redundant or turgid; in motion appeased, not dancing or 
unequal. It is to be seen in flames, that the bigger they 
are, the stronger they break forth, and the more speedily 
they consume. And, therefore, overgreat plenty, or exu- 
berance of the spirits, is altogether hurtful to long life; 
neither need one wish a greater store of spirits, than what 
is sufficient for the functions of life and the office of a 
good reparation. 

The living spirit stands in need of three things that 
it may subsist: convenient motion, temperate refrigera- 
tion, and fit aliment. We suppose all things in modera- 
tion to be best. 

No body can be healthy without exercise, neither 
natural body nor politic. It is altogether requisite to 



long life, that the body should never abide long in one 
posture; but that every half-hour, at least, it change the 
posture, saving only in sleep. As for exercise, an idle 
life doth manifestly make the flesh soft and dissipable; 
robust exercise, so it be without overmuch sweating or 
weariness, maketh it hard and compact. Also exercise 
within cold water, as swimming, is very good; and, gen- 
erally, exercise abroad is better than that within houses. 
Exercises which stir up a good strong motion, but not 
overswift, or to our utmost strength, do not hurt, but 
rather benefit. 

Men ought to beware that they use not exercise and 
a spare diet both; but if much exercise, then a plentiful 
diet; and if sparing diet, then little exercise. The bene- 
fits that come of exercise are: first, that it sendeth nour- 
ishment into the parts more forcibly; secondly, that it 
helpeth to excern by sweat, and so maketh the parts 
assimilate the more perfectly; thirdly, that it maketh the 
substance of the body more solid and compact, and so 
less apt to be consumed and depredated by the spirits. 

That exercise may resolve either the spirits or the 
juices as little as may be, it is necessary that it be used, 
when the stomach is not altogether empty; and, there- 
fore, that it may not be used upon a full stomach, — which 
doth much concern health, — nor yet upon an empty 
stomach, — which doth no less concern long life, — it is 
best to take a breakfast in the morning, of plain meat and 
drink ; yet that very light, and. in moderate quantity. 

Both exercise and frications conduce much to long 
life ; for agitation doth fineliest diffuse and commix things 
by small portions. But in exercise and frications there 
is the same reason and caution, that the body may not 
perspire or exhale too much. Therefore, exercise is bet- 
ter in the open air than in the house, and better in win- 
ter than in summer. Gentle frications, and moderate 



exercises, causing rather perspiration than sweating, con- 
duce much to long life. But, generally, exercise, if it be 
much, is no friend to prolongation of life; which is one 
cause why women live longer than men, because they stir 

Eefrigeration, or cooling of the body, which passeth 
some other ways than by the stomach, is useful for long 
life. The reason is at hand: for seeing a refrigeration 
not temperate, but powerful, — especially of the blood, — 
is above all things necessary to long life, this can by no 
means be effected from within as much as is requisite, 
without the destruction of the stomach and bowels. 

The body of man doth regularly require renovation 
by aliment every day, and a body in health can scarce 
endure fasting three days together; notwithstanding, use 
and custom will do much, even in this case; but in sick- 
ness, fasting is less grievous to the body. We would have 
men rightly to observe and distinguish, that those things 
which are good for a healthful life, are not always good 
for a long life ; for there are some things which do further 
the alacrity of the spirits, and the strength and vigor of 
the functions, which, notwithstanding, do cut off from the 
sum of life. It is hard to distinguish that which is gen- 
erally held good and wholesome, from that which is good 
particularly, and fit for thine own body. It doth no good 
to have the aliment ready, in a degree removed, but to 
have it of that kind, and so prepared and supplied, that 
the spirit may work upon it ; for the staff of a torch alone 
will not maintain the flame, unless it be fed with wax; 
neither can men live upon herbs alone. Nourishment 
ought to be of an inferior nature and more simple sub- 
stances than the thing nourished. Plants are nourished 
with the earth and water, living creatures with plants, 
man with living creatures. There are also certain creatures 

♦ See Note A 



feeding upon flesh; and man himself takes plants into a 
part of his nourishment. 

The stomach — which, as they say, is the master of 
the house, and whose strength and goodness is funda- 
mental to the other concoctions — ought so to be guarded 
and confirmed that it may be without intemperateness 
hot; it is to be kept ever in appetite, because appetite 
sharpens digestion. This also is most certain, that the 
brain is in some sort in the custody of the stomach ; and, 
therefore, those things which comfort and strengthen the 
stomach, do help the brain by consent. I do verily con- 
ceive it good that the first draught be taken at supper, 
warm. I knew a physician that was very famous; who, 
in the beginning of dinner and supper, would usually eat 
a few spoonfuls of very warm broth with much greedi- 
ness, and then would presently wish that it were out again, 
saying he had no need of the broth, but only of the warmth. 

A pythagorical or monastical diet, according to strict 
rules, and always exactly equal — as that of Cornaro was, 
— seemeth to be very effectual for long life. If there 
were anything eminent in the Spartans, that was to be 
imputed to the parsimony of their diet. It is not more 
true, that ^^Many dishes have caused many diseases/' — as 
the proverb is, — than this is true, that many medicines 
have caused few cures. 

It seems to be approved by experience, that a spare 
diet, and almost a pythagorical, — such as is either pre- 
scribed by the strict rules of a monastical life, or prac- 
ticed by hermits, which have necessity and poverty for 
their rule, — rendereth a man long-lived. Celsus, who 
was not only a learned physician, but a wise man, is not 
to be omitted, who adviseth interchanging and alterna- 
tion of the diet, but still with an inclination to the more 
benign. Conservation of health hath commonly need of 



no more than some short courses of physic; but length 
of life cannot be hoped without an orderly diet. 

Curing of diseases is effected by temporary medicines; 
but lengthening of life requireth observation of diets. 
Those things which come by accident, as soon as the 
causes are removed, cease again ; but the continual course 
of nature, like a running river, requires a continual row- 
ing and sailing against the stream. Therefore we must 
work regularly by diets. Now, diets are of two kinds : set 
diets, which are to be observed at certain times; and 
familiar diet, which is to be admitted into our daily re- 
past. But the set diets are the more potent; for those 
things which are of so great virtue that they are able to 
turn nature back again, are, for the most part, more strong, 
and more speedily altering, than those which may without 
danger be received into a continual use. 

Certainly this is without all question: diet, well 
ordered, bears the greatest part in the prolongation of 
life. But if the diet shall not be altogether so rigorous 
and mortifying, yet, notwithstanding, shall be always equal 
and constant to itself, it worketh the same effect. We see 
it in flames, that a flame somewhat bigger — so it be al- 
ways alike and quiet — consumeth less of the fuel, than a 
lesser flame blown with bellows, and by gusts stronger or 
weaker. That which the regimen and diet of Cornaro, the 
Venetian, showed plainly; who did eat and drink so many 
years together by a Just weight, whereby he exceeded a 
hundred years of age, strong in limbs, and entire in his 

I am of opinion, that emaciating diseases, afterward 
well cured, have advanced many in the way of long life; 
for they yield new juice, the old being consumed ; and to 
recover a sickness is to renew youth. Therefore it were 
good to make some artificial diseases, which is done by 
strict and emaciating diets. 



We see that all things which are done by nutrition 
ask a long time; but those which are done by embracing of 
the like — as it is in infusions — require no long time. 
Therefore, alimentation from without would be of princi- 
pal use; and so much the more, because the faculties of 
concoction decay in old age; so that if there could be 
some auxiliary nutritions, by bathing, unctions, or else by 
clysters, these things in conjunction might do much, which 
single are less available. 

Also, sleep doth supply somewhat to nourishment ; and, 
on the other side, exercise doth require it more abundantly. 
But as moderate sleep conferreth to long life, so much more 
if it be quiet and not disturbed. 

Assimilation is best done when all local motion is 
suspended. The act itself of assimilation is chiefly accom- 
plished in sleep and rest, especially toward the morning, 
the distribution being finished. Those that are very cold, 
and especially in their feet, cannot get to sleep ; the cause 
may be that in sleep is required a free respiration, which 
cold doth shut in and hinder. Therefore, we have nothing 
else to advise but that men keep themselves hot in their 

Sleep is regularly due unto human nature once with- 
in four-and-twenty hours, and that for six or five hours 
at the least; though there are, even in this kind, some- 
times miracles of nature; as it is recorded of Mascenas, 
that he slept not for a long time before his death. The 
fable tells us that Epimenides slept many years together 
in a cave, and all that time needed no meat; because the 
spirits waste not much in sleep. 

Some noises help sleep ; as the blowing of the wind, 
the trickling of water, humming of bees, soft singing, 
reading, etc. The cause is that they move in the spirits 
a gentle attention ; and whatsoever moveth attention, with- 
out too much labor, stilleth the natural and discursive 



motion of the spirits. Sleep nourisheth, or at least pre- 
serveth, bodies a long time, without other nourishment. 
There have some been found who sustained them- 
selves — almost to a miracle in nature — a very long time 
without meat or drink. Living creatures may subsist 
somewhat the longer without aliment, if they sleep ; now, 
sleep is nothing else but a reception and retirement of 
the living spirit into itself. Experience teacheth us that 
certain creatures, as dormice and bats, sleep in some close 
places a whole winter together; such is the force of sleep 
to restrain all vital consumption. That which bees or 
drones are also thought to do, though sometimes destitute 
of honey ; and likewise butterflies and other flies. Beasts 
that sleep in winter, — as it is noted of wild bears, — dur- 
ing their sleep wax very fat, though they eat nothing. Bats 
have been found in ovens, and other hollow close places, 
matted one upon another; and, therefore, it is likely that 
they sleep in the winter time, and eat nothing. Butter- 
flies, and other flies, do not only sleep, but lie as dead all 
winter; and yet with a little heat of sun or fire, revive 
again. A dormouse, both winter and summer, will sleep 
some days together, and eat nothing. 

Sleep after dinner — the stomach sending up no un- 
pleasant vapors to the head, as being the first dews of our 
meat — is good for the spirits, but derogatory and hurtful 
to all other points of health. Notwithstanding, in ex- 
treme old age there is the same reason of meat and sleep ; 
for both our meals and our sleeps should be then frequent, 
but short and little ; nay, and toward the last period of old 
age, a mere rest, and, as it were, a perpetual reposing, 
doth best — especially in winter time. 

To be free-minded and cheerfully disposed at hours 
of meat and of sleep and of exercise, is one of the best 
precepts of long lasting. 



We suppose that a good clothing of the body maketh 
much to long life; for it fenceth and armeth against the 
intemperances of the air, which do wonderfully assail and 
decay the body. 

Above all things, in youth, and for those that have 
sufficiently strong stomachs, it will be best to take a good 
draught of clear cold water when they go to bed. 

Washing the body in cold water is good for length of 

Especially, care must be taken that no hot things be 
applied to the head outwardly. 

Not only the goodness or pureness of the air, but 
also the equality of the air, is material to long life. It 
is a secret that the health fulness of air, especially in any 
perfection, is better found by experiment than by dis- 
course or conjecture. The country life is well fitted for 
long life; it is much abroad, and in the open air; it is 
not slothful, but ever in employment. They are longer 
lived, for the most part, that live abroad in the open air, 
than they that live in houses; and it is certain that the 
morning air is more lively and refreshing than the eve- 
ning air. Change of air by traveling, after one be used 
unto it, is good ; and, therefore, great travelers have been 
long-lived. Also those that have lived perpetually in a 
little cottage, in the same place, have been long livers ; for 
air accustomed consumeth less, but air changed nour- 
isheth and repaireth more. 

The heart receiveth benefit or harm most from the 
air which we breathe, from vapors, and from the affec- 

We must come now to the affections and passions of 
the mind, and see which of them are hurtful to long life, 
which profitable. 

Every noble, and resolute, and — as they call it — 
heroical desire, strengtheneth and enlargeth the powers 



of the heart. Goodness I call the habit, and goodness of 
nature the inclination. This, of all virtues and dignities 
of the mind, is the greatest, being the character of the 
Deity; and without it, man is a busy, mischievous, 
wretched thing, no better than a kind of vermin. 

Hope is the most beneficial of all the affections, and 
doth much to the prolongation of life, if it be not too 
often frustrated, but entertaineth the fancy with an ex- 
pectation of good ; therefore, they which fix and propound 
to themselves some end, — as the mark and scope of their 
life, — and continually and by degrees go forward in the 
same, are, for the most part, long-lived. 

Admiration and light contemplation are very power- 
ful to the prolonging of life; for they hold the spirits in 
such things as delight them, and suffer them not to tu- 
multuate, or to carry themselves unquietly and waywardly. 
Therefore, all the contemplators of natural things, which 
had so many and eminent objects to admire, were long- 

Action, endeavor, and labor, undertaken cheerfully and 
with a good will, doth refresh the spirits; but with an 
aversation and unwillingness, doth fret and deject them. 
Therefore it conferreth to long life, either that a man 
hath the art to institute his life so as it may be free and 
suitable to his own humor, or else to lay such a command 
upon his mind, that whatsoever is imposed by fortune, it 
may rather lead him than drag him. 

No doubt it furthereth long life, to have all things 
from our youth to our elder age mend and grow to the 
better; that a youth full of crosses may minister sweet- 
ness to our old age. 

One thing, above all, is grateful to the spirits: that 
there be a continual progress to the more benign. There- 
fore we should lead such a youth and manhood, that our 
old age should find new solaces, whereof the chief is 



moderate ease ; and, therefore, old men in honorable places 
lay violent hands upon themselves, who retire not to their 
ease. But this thing doth require two cautions : one, that 
they drive not off till their bodies be utterly worn out and 
diseased, for in such bodies all mutation, though to the 
more benign, hasteneth death ; the other, that they surren- 
der not themselves to a sluggish ease, but that they em- 
brace something which may entertain their thoughts and 
mind with contentation. 

Ficino saith — not unwisely — that old men, for the 
comforting of their spirits, ought often to remember and 
ruminate upon the acts of their childhood and youth. 
Certainly, such a remembrance is a kind of peculiar recrea- 
tion to every old man ; and, therefore, it is a delight to men 
to enjoy the society of them which have been brought up 
together with them, and to visit the places of their educa- 
tion. Vespasian did attribute so much to this matter, that, 
when he was emperor, he would by no means be persuaded 
to leave his father's house, — though but mean, — lest he 
should lose the wonted object of his eyes and the memory 
of his childhood. And, besides, he would drink in a 
wooden cup, tipped with silver, which was his grand- 
mother's, upon festival days. 

The spirits are delighted both with wonted things 
and with new. Now, it maketh wonderfully to the con- 
servation of the spirits in vigor, that we neither use wonted 
things to a satiety and glutting, nor new things before 
a quick and strong appetite. Therefore, both customs are 
to be broken off with judgment and care, before they 
breed a fullness; and the appetite after new things to be 
restrained for a time, until it grow more sharp and jocund. 
Moreover, the life, as much as may be, is so to be ordered, 
that it may have many renovations; and the spirits, by 
perpetual conversing in the same actions, may not wax dull. 



For though it were no Dl saying of Seneca's, "The fool doth 
ever begin to live^' ; yet this folly, and many more such, are 
good for long life. 

It is to be observed touching the spirits, — though 
the contrary used to be done, — that when men perceive 
their spirits to be in good, placid, and healthful state, — 
that which will be seen by the tranquillity of their mind, 
and cheerful disposition, — that they cherish them, and 
not change them; but when in a turbulent and untoward 
state, — which will also appear by their sadness, lumpish- 
ness, and other indisposition of their mind, — that then 
they straight overwhelm them and alter them. Now, the 
spirits are contained in the same state by a restraining 
of the affections, temperateness of diet, moderation in 
labor, indifferent rest and repose; and the contrary to 
these do alter and overwhelm the spirits; as, namely, 
vehement affections, profuse feastings, difficult labors, 
earnest studies, and prosecution of business. Yet men 
are wont, when they are merriest and best disposed, then 
to apply themselves to feastings, labors, endeavors, busi- 
ness ; whereas, if they have a regard to long life, — which 
may seem strange, — they should rather practice the con- 
trary. For we ought to cherish and preserve good spirits ; 
and for the evil-disposed spirits, to discharge and alter 

Grief and sadness, if it be void of fear, and afflict not 
too much, doth rather prolong life. 

Great joys attenuate and diffuse the spirits, and 
shorten life. Great fears, also, shorten life; for though 
grief and fear do both strengthen the spirits, yet in grief 
there is a simple contraction; but in fear, by reason of 
the cares taken for the remedy, and hopes intermixed, 
there is a turmoil and vexing of the spirits. 

Whosoever is out of patience, is out of possession of 
his soul. 



Envy is the worst of all passions, and feedeth upon 
the spirits, and they again upon the body. Of all affec- 
tions, envy is the most importune and continual; there- 
fore it was well said, "Envy keeps no holidays/' for it is 
ever working upon some or other. It is also the vilest affec- 
tion, and the most depraved; for which cause it is the 
proper attribute of the devil, who is called "The envious 
man, that soweth tares amongst the wheat hy night.'' 

Certainly, the more a man drinketh of the world, the 
more it intoxicateth. I cannot call riches better than the 
baggage of virtue. The Roman word is better, "impedi- 
menta"', for as the baggage is to an army, so is riches 
to virtue; it cannot be spared nor left behind, but it hin- 
dereth the march ; yea, and the care of it sometimes loseth 
or disturbeth the victory. 

It is most certain, that passions always covet and 
desire that which experience forsakes. And they all know, 
who have paid dear for serving and obeying their lusts, 
that whether it be honor, or riches, or delight, or glory, or 
knowledge, or anything else, which they seek after; yet 
are they but things cast off, and, by divers men in all ages, 
after experience had, utterly rejected and loathed. 

There is a wisdom in this beyond the rules of physic : 
a man's own observation, what he finds good of, and what 
he finds hurt of, is the best physic to preserve health. 
But it is a safer conclusion to say, "This agreeth not well 
with me, therefore I will not continue it"', than this, "I 
find no offense of this, therefore I may use it" ; for strength 
of nature in youth passeth over many excesses which are 
owing a man till his age. Discern of the coming on of 
years, and think not to do the same things still; for age 
will not be defied. Beware of sudden change in any great 
point of diet, and, if necessity enforce it, fit the rest to it ; 



for it is a secret both in nature and state, that it is safer 
to change many things than one. Examine thy customs 
of diet, sleep, exercise, apparel, and the like; and try, in 
anything thou shalt judge hurtful, to discontinue it by 
little by little. 

Entertain hopes; mirth rather than joy; variety of de- 
lights, rather than surfeit of them; wonder and admira- 
tion, and therefore novelties ; studies that fill the mind with 
splendid and illustrious objects, as histories, fables, and 
contemplations of nature. If you fly physic in health al- 
together, it will be too strange for your body when you 
shall need it; if you make it too familiar, it will work no 
extraordinary effect when sickness cometh. Despise no 
new accident in your body, but ask opinion of it. In sick- 
ness, respect health principally; and in health, action; for 
those that put their bodies to endure in health, may, in 
most sicknesses which are not very sharp, be cured only- 
with diet and tendering. 

Physicians are some of them so pleasing and con- 
formable to the humor of the patient, as they press not 
the true cure of the disease; and some others are so regu- 
lar in proceeding according to art for the disease, as they 
respect not sufl&ciently the condition of the patient. Take 
one of a middle temper; or, if it may not be found in 
one man, combine two of either sort ; and forget not to call 
as well the best acquainted with your body, as the best re- 
puted of for his faculty. 

Touching the length and shortness of life in living 
creatures, the information which may be had is but slender, 
observation negligent, and tradition fabulous. In tame 
creatures, their degenerate life corrupteth them; in wild 
creatures, their exposing to all weathers often intercepteth 

Man's age, as far as can be gathered by any certain 
narration, doth exceed the age of all other living creatures. 



except it be of a very few only. No doubt there are times 
in every country wherein men are longer or shorter lived : 
longer, for the most part, when they fare less deliciously, 
and are more given to bodily exercises ; shorter, when they 
abandon themselves to luxury and ease. The countries 
which have been observed to produce long livers are these : 
Arcadia, iEtolia, India on this side Ganges, Brazil, Tapro- 
bane [Ceylon], Britain, Ireland, with the islands of the 
Orcades [Orkneys] and Hebrides. We read that the 
Esseans [Essenes], amongst the Jews, did usually extend 
their life to a hundred years. Now, that sect used a single 
or abstemious diet, after the rule of Pythagoras. The 
monks and hermits, which fed sparingly, and upon dry ali- 
ment, attained commonly to a great age. Amongst the 
Venetians there have been found not a few long livers, and 
those of the more eminent sort: Francis Donato, Duke; 
Thomas Contarini, Procurator of St. Mark; and others. 
But most memorable is Cornaro the Venetian ; who, being 
in his youth of a sickly body, began first to eat and drink 
by measure to a certain weight, thereby to recover his 
health; this cure turned by use into a diet; that diet to 
an extraordinary long life, even of a hundred years and 
better, without any decay in his senses, and with a con- 
stant enjoying of his health. 

Being admonished by Aristotle's observation touch- 
ing plants, that the putting forth of new shoots and 
branches refresheth the body of the tree in the passage; 
we conceive the like reason might be, if the flesh and 
blood in the body of man were often renewed, that thereby 
the bones themselves, and membranes, and other parts, — 
which in their own nature are less reparable, — partly by 
the cheerful passage of the juices, partly by that new 
clothing of the young flesh and blood, might be watered 
and renewed. If any man could procure that a young 



man's spirit could be conveyed into an old man's body, 
it is not unlikely but this great wheel of the spirits might 
turn about the lesser wheels of the parts, and so the course 
of nature become retrograde. The spirit, if it be not 
irritated by the antipathy of the body inclosing it, nor fed 
by the overmuch likeness of that body, nor solicited nor in- 
vited by the external body, makes no great stir to get out. 

We denounce unto men that they will give over trifling, 
and not imagine that so great a work as the stopping and 
turning back the powerful course of nature can be 
brought to pass by some morning draught, or the taking of 
some precious drug; but that they would be assured that 
it must needs be that this is a work of labor, and con- 
sisteth of many remedies, and a fit connection of them 
amongst themselves. 

If a man perform that which hath not been attempted 
before, or attempted and given over, or hath been achieved, 
but not with so good circumstance, he shall purchase 
more honor than by affecting a matter of greater difficulty, 
or virtue, wherein he is but a follower. 

Experience, no doubt, will both verify and promote 
these matters. And such, in all things, are the works 
of every prudent counsel, that they are admirable in their 


Voluptuous man 
j Is by superior faculties misled; 
Misled from pleasure even in quest of joy. 
Sated with Nature's boons, what thousands seek. 
With dishes tortured from their native taste. 
And mad variety, to spur beyond 
Its wiser will the jaded appetite ! 
Is this for pleasure ? Learn a juster taste ! 
And Jcnow thai temperance is true luxury. 

Know, whatever 
Beyond its natural fervor hurries on 
The sanguine tide; whether the frequent bowl. 
High-season' d fare, or exercise to toil 
Protracted; spurs to its last stage tired life. 
And sows the temples with untimely snow. 

— John Armstrong. 



"Health and Long Life' 


I can truly say, that, of all the paper I have blotted, 
which has been a great deal in my time, I have never 
written anything for the public without the intention 
of some public good. Whether I have succeeded, or no, 
is not my part to judge; and others, in what they tell 
me, may deceive either me or themselves. Good inten- 
tions are at least the seed of good actions; and every 
man ought to sow them, and leave it to the soil and the 
seasons whether they come up or no, and whether he or 
any other gathers the fruit. 

I have chosen those subjects of these essays, wherein 
I take human life to be most concerned, and which are 

♦ See Note C 



of most common use, or most necessary knowledge; and 
wherein, though I may not be able to inform men more 
than they know, yet I may, perhaps, give them the occa- 
sion to consider more than they do. All men would be 
glad to be their own masters, and should not be sorry 
to be their own scholars, when they pay no more for their 
learning than their own thoughts, which they have com- 
monly more store of about them than they know what to do 
with. Of all sorts of instructions, the best is gained from 
our own thoughts as well as experience; for though a 
man may grow learned by other men's thoughts, yet he 
will grow wise or happy only by his own — the use of 
other men's toward these ends, is but to serve for one's own 

Some writers, in casting up the goods most desirable in 
life, have given them this rank : health, beauty, and riches. 
Of the first I find no dispute, but to the two others much 
may be said ; for beauty is a good that makes others happy 
rather than one's self; and how riches should claim so 
high a rank, I cannot tell, when so great, so wise, and so 
good a part of mankind have, in all ages, preferred poverty 
before them. All the ancient philosophers — whatever else 
they differed in — agreed in this of despising riches, and 
at best esteeming them an unnecessary trouble or encum- 
brance of life; so that whether they are to be reckoned 
among goods or evils is yet left in doubt. 

The two great blessings of life are, in my opinion, 
health and good humor ; and none contribute more to one 
another. Without health, all will allow life to be but a 
burden; and the several conditions of fortune to be all 
wearisome, dull, or disagreeable, without good humor; 
nor does any seem to contribute toward the true happiness 
of life, but as it serves to increase that treasure, or to 



preserve it. Whatever other differences are commonly ap- 
prehended in the several conditions of fortune, none, per- 
haps, will be found so true or so great as what is made 
by those two circumstances, so little regarded in the com- 
mon course or pursuits of mortal men. 

Health in the body is like peace in the State and 
serenity in the air. Health is the soul that animates all 
enjoyments of life, which fade and are tasteless, if not 
dead, without it. A man starves at the best and the great- 
est tables, and is poor and wretched in the midst of the 
greatest treasures and fortunes. With common diseases, 
strength grows decrepit ; youth loses all vigor, and beauty 
all charms ; music grows harsh, and conversation disagree- 
able; palaces are prisons, or of equal confinement; riches 
are useless; honor and attendance are cumbersome; and 
crowns themselves are a burden. But if diseases are pain- 
ful and violent, they equal all conditions of life, and make 
no difference between a prince and a beggar. The vigor 
of the mind decays with that of the body, and not only 
humor and invention, but even judgment and resolution, 
change and languish with ill constitution of body and of 
health ; and, by this means> public business comes to suffer 
by private infirmities, and Kingdoms or States fall into 
weaknesses and distempers or decays of those persons that 
manage them. I have seen the counsels of a noble country 
grow bold or timorous, according to the fits of his good or 
ill health that managed them ; and the pulse of the govern- 
ment beat high or low with that of the governor. Thus, 
accidents of health grow to be accidents of State; and 
public constitutions come to depend, in a great measure, 
upon those of particular men. 

To know that the passions or distempers of the mind 
make our lives unhappy, in spite of all accidents and 




favors of fortune, a man, perhaps, must be a philosopher 
and requires much thought, and study, and deep reflec- 
tions. To be a Stoic, and grow insensible of pain, as 
well as poverty or disgrace, one must be, perhaps, some- 
thing more or less than a man, renounce common nature, 
oppose common truth and constant experience. But there 
needs little learning or study, more than common thought 
and observation, to find out that ill health loses not only 
the enjoyments of fortune, but the pleasures of sense, and 
even of imagination; and hinders the common operations 
both of body and mind from being easy and free. Let 
philosophers reason and differ about the chief good or 
happiness of man; let them find it where they can, and 
place it where they please; but there is no mistake so 
gross, or opinion so impertinent, — how common soever, — 
as to think pleasures arise from what is without us, 
rather than from what is within. 

But to leave philosophy, and return to health. What- 
ever is true in point of happiness depending upon the 
temper of the mind, 'tis certain that pleasures depend upon 
the temper of the body; and that, to enjoy them, a man 
must be well himself. Men are apt to play with their 
health and their lives, as they do with their clothes. To 
find any felicity, or take any pleasure in the greatest ad- 
vantages of honor and fortune, a man must be in health. 
Who would not be covetous, and with reason, if this could 
be purchased with gold? who not ambitious, if it were at 
the command of power, or restored by honor? But, alas! 
a white staff will not help gouty feet to walk better than 
a common cane ; nor a blue ribbon bind up a wound so well 
as a fillet ; the glitter of gold or of diamonds will but hurt 
sore eyes, instead of curing them; and an aching head 
will be no more eased by wearing a crown than a common 



If health be such a blessing, and the very source of all 
pleasure, it may be worth the pains to discover the regions 
where it grows, the springs that feed it, the customs and 
methods by which it is best cultivated and preserved. 
Toward this end, it will be necessary to consider the ex- 
amples or instances we meet with of health, and long life, 
which is the consequence of it; and to observe the places, 
the customs, and the conditions of those who enjoyed them 
in any degree extraordinary; from whence we may best 
guess at the causes, and make the truest conclusions. 

Health and long life are usually blessings of the poor, 
not of the rich ; and the fruits of temperance, rather than 
of luxury and excess. And, indeed, if a rich man does not, 
in many things, live like a poor, he will certainly be the 
worse for his riches : if he does not use exercise, which is 
but voluntary labor; if he does not restrain appetite by 
choice, as the other does by necessity ; if he does not prac- 
tice sometimes even abstinence and fasting, which is the 
last extreme of want and poverty. If his cares and his 
troubles increase with his riches, or his passions with his 
pleasures, he will certainly impair in health, whilst he 
improves his fortunes, and lose more than he gains by the 
bargain ; since health is the best of all human possessions, 
and without which the rest are not relished or kindly en- 

It is observable in story, that the ancient philoso- 
phers lived generally very long; which may be attributed 
to their great temperance, and their freedom from com- 
mon passions, as well as cares, of the world. The Bra- 
zilians, when first discovered, lived the most natural orig- 
inal lives of mankind, so frequently described in ancient 
countries, before laws, or property, or arts made entrance 
among them ; they lived without business or labor, further 



than for their necessary food, by gathering fruits, herbs, 
and plants; they knew no drink but water; were not 
tempted to eat nor drink beyond common thirst or appetite ; 
were not troubled with either public or domestic cares ; nor 
knew any pleasures but the most simple and natural. Many 
of these were said, at the time that country was discovered 
by the Europeans, to have lived two hundred, some three 
hundred years. 

From these examples and customs it may probably 
be concluded, that the common ingredients of health and 
long life — where births are not impaired from the con- 
ception by any derived infirmities of the race they come 
from — are great temperance, open air, easy labor, little 
care, simplicity of diet, and water — which preserves the 
radical moisture without too much increasing the radical 
heat; whereas sickness, decay, and death proceed com- 
monly from the one preying too fast upon the other, and 
at length wholly extinguishing it. 

I think temperance deserves the first rank among 
public virtues, as well as those of private men ; and doubt 
whether any can pretend to the constant, steady exercise 
of prudence, justice, or fortitude, without it. That which 
I call temperance, is a regular and simple diet, limited by 
every man's experience of his own easy digestion, and 
thereby proportioning, as near as well can be, the daily 
repairs to the daily decays of our wasting bodies. Tem- 
perance, that virtue without pride, and fortune without 
envy! that gives indolence [repose] of body, and tran- 
quillity of mind ; the best guardian of youth, and support 
of old age ; the precept of reason, as well as religion ; the 
physician of the soul, as well as the body; the tutelar 
goddess of health, and universal medicine of life; that 
clears the head, and cleanses the blood; that strengthens 
the nerves, enlightens the eyes, and comforts the heart ! 



No degree of temperance can, I think, be too great 
for the cure of most diseases to which mankind is exposed, 
rather by the viciousness, than by the. frailty, of their 
natures — diseases by which we often condemn ourselves 
to greater torments and miseries of life than have, per- 
haps, been yet invented by anger or revenge, or inflicted 
by the greatest tyrants upon the worst of men. I know 
not whether some desperate degrees of abstinence would 
not have the same effect upon other men, as they had upon 
Atticus; who, weary of his life as well as his physicians 
by long and cruel pains of a dropsical gout, and despair- 
ing of any cure, resolved by degrees to starve himself to 
death ; and went so far, that the physicians found he had 
ended his disease instead of his life. 

For one life that ends by mere decay of nature or 
age, millions are intercepted by accidents from without 
or diseases within; by untimely deaths or decays; from 
the effects of excess and luxury, immoderate repletion or 
exercise. Men are, perhaps, most betrayed to all these 
dangers by great strength and vigor of constitution, by 
more appetite and larger fare, in colder climates; in the 
warm, excesses are found more pernicious to health, and 
so more avoided; and if experience and reflection do not 
cause temperance among them, yet it is forced upon them 
by the faintness of appetite. I can find no better account 
of a story Sir Francis Bacon tells, of a very old man, 
whose customs and diet he inquired ; who said he observed 
none besides eating before he was hungry and drinking 
before he was dry, for by that rule he was sure never to eat 
nor drink much at a time. I do not remember, either in 
story or modern observation, any examples of long life 
common to any parts of Europe, which the temper of the 
climate has probably made the scene of luxury and excesses 
in diet. 



And, I doubt, pleasures too long continued, or rather 
too frequently repeated, may spend the spirits, and thereby 
life, too fast^ to leave it very long; like blowing a fire 
too often, which makes it indeed burn the better, but last 
the less. For as pleasures perish themselves in the using, 
— like flowers that fade with gathering, — so 'tis neither 
natural nor safe to continue them long, to renew them with- 
out appetite, or ever to provoke them by arts or imagination 
where Nature does not call ; who can best tell us when and 
how much we need, or what is good for us, if we were so 
wise as to consult her. 

The faintness of appetite, especially in great cities, 
makes the many endeavors to relieve and provoke it by 
art, where nature fails; and this is one great ground of 
luxury, and so many, and various, and extravagant inven- 
tions to heighten and improve it ; which may serve perhaps 
for some refinement in pleasure, but not at all for any 
advantages of health or of life. On the contrary, all the 
great cities, celebrated most by the concourse of mankind, 
and by the inventions and customs of the greatest and 
most delicate luxury, are the scenes of the most frequent 
and violent plagues, as well as other diseases. 

In the course of common life, a man must either often 
exercise, or fast, or take physic, or be sick ; and the choice 
seems left to everyone as he likes. The first two are the 
best methods and means of preserving health; the use 
of physic is for restoring it, and curing those diseases 
which are generally caused by the want or neglect of the 
others; but is neither necessary, nor perhaps useful, for 
confirming health, or to the length of life, being generally 
a force upon nature — though the end of it seems to be 
rather assisting nature, than opposing it in its course. 
Nature knows her own wants and times so well, as to need 
little assistance; leave her to her course, who is the 



sovereign physician in most diseases, and leaves little for 
others to do. 

'Tis true, physicians must be in danger of losing 
their credit with the vulgar, if they should often tell a 
patient he has no need of physic, and prescribe only rules 
of diet or common use ; most people would think they had 
lost their fee. But the first excellence of a physician^s 
skill and care is discovered by resolving whether it be best 
in the case to administer any physic or none — to trust to 
nature or to art; and the next, to give such prescriptions, 
as, if they do no good, may be sure to do no harm. 

In the midst of such uncertainties of health and of 
physic, for my own part, I have, in the general course 
of my life, trusted to God Almighty; to nature; to tem- 
perance or abstinence; and the use of common remedies, 
vulgarly known and approved, like proverbs, by long ob- 
servation and experience, either of my own, or such persons 
as have fallen in the way of my observation or inquiry. 
The best cares or provisions for life and health consist in 
the discreet and temperate government of diet and exer- 
cise in both which all excess is to be avoided. ^ 

As hope is the sovereign balsam of life, and the best 
cordial in all distempers both of body or mind; so fear, 
and regret, and melancholy apprehensions — with the dis- 
tractions, disquiets, or at least intranquillity, they occasion 
— are the worst accidents that can attend any diseases; 
and make them often mortal, which would otherwise pass, 
and have had but a common course. I have known the 
most busy ministers of state, most fortunate courtiers, 
most vigorous youths, most beautiful virgins, in the 
strength or flower of their age, sink under common dis- 
tempers, by the force of such weights, and the cruel damps 
and disturbances thereby given their spirits and their 
blood. 'Tis no matter what is made the occasion, if well 



improved by spleen and melancholy apprehensions : a dis- 
appointed hope, a blot of honor, a strain of conscience, an 
unfortunate love, an aching jealousy, a repining grief, will 
serve the turn, and all alike. 

I remember an ingenious physician, who told me, in 
the fanatic times, he found most of his patients so dis- 
turbed by troubles of conscience, that he was forced to play 
the divine with them before he could begin the physician ; 
whose greatest skill, perhaps, often lies in the infusing of 
hopes, and inducing some composure and tranquillity of 
mind, before he enters upon the other operations of his 
art. This ought to be the first endeavor of the patient, too ; 
without which, all other medicines may lose their virtue. 
In all diseases of body or mind, it is happy to have an 
able physician for a friend, or discreet friend for a phy- 
sician ; which is so great a blessing, that the wise man will 
have it to proceed only from God, where he says : "A faith- 
ful friend is the medicine of life, and he that fears the Lord 
shall find him." 

Greece, having been the first scene of luxury we meet 
with in story, and having thereby occasioned more diseases, 
seemed to owe the world that justice of providing the 
remedies. Among the more simple and original customs 
and lives of other nations it entered late, and was intro- 
duced by the Grecians. In ancient Babylon — how great 
and populous soever — no physicians were known, nor 
other methods for the cure of diseases, besides abstinence, 
patience, and domestic care. 

Whoever was accounted the god of physic, the prince 
of this science must be by all, I think, allowed to have 
been Hippocrates, whose writings are the most ancient of 
any that remain to posterity. He was a great philosopher 
and naturalist, before he began the study of physic, to 
which both these are perhaps necessary. His rules and 



From the painting by Sir Peter Lely 

National Portrait Gallery, London 

Photograph copyrighted by talker and Cockcrell 


methods continued in practice as well as esteem, without 
any dispute, for many ages, till the time of Galen; and I 
have heard a great physician say, that his aphorisms are 
still the most certain and uncontrolled of any that science 
has produced. I will judge but of one, which, in my 
opinion, has the greatest race and height both of sense 
and judgment that I have read in so few words, and the 
best expressed : ^^Ars longa, vita hrevis, experientia fallax, 
occasio praeceps, judicium difficile" \^'Art is long, life is 
short, experience deceptive, opportunity sudden, decision 
difficult"']. By which alone, if no more remained of that 
admirable person, we may easily judge how great a genius 
he was, and how perfectly he understood both nature and 
art. In the time of Adrian, Galen began to change the 
practice and methods of physic, derived to that age from 
Hippocrates ; and those of his new institution continue gen- 
erally observed to our time. Yet Paracelsus, about two 
hundred years ago, endeavored to overthrow the whole 
scheme of Galen, and introduce a new one of his own, as 
well as the use of chemical medicines ; and has not wanted 
his followers and admirers ever sinca 

I have, in my life^ met with two of above a hundred 
and twelve; whereof the woman had passed her life in 
service; and the man, in common labor, till he grew old, 
and fell upon the parish. But I met with one who had 
gone a much greater length, which made me more curious 
in my inquiries: 'twas an old man, who told me he was 
a hundred and twenty-four years old. I have heard, and 
very credibly, of many in my life, above a hundred years 

One comfort of age may be, that, whereas younger 
men are usually in pain, when they are not in pleasure, 
old men find a sort of pleasure, whenever they are out of 
pain. And, as young men often lose or impair their 



present enjoyments, by raving after what is to come, by 
vain hopes, or fruitless fears ; so old men relieve the wants 
of their age, by pleasing reflections upon what is past. 
Therefore men, in the health and vigor of their age, 
should endeavor to fill their lives with the worthiest ac- 
tions, — either in their public or private stations, — that 
they may have something agreeable left to feed on, when 
they are old, by pleasing remembrances. But, as they 
are only the clean beasts which chew the cud, when they 
have fed enough ; so they must be clean and virtuous men 
that can reflect, with pleasure, upon the past accidents or 
courses of their lives. Besides, men who grow old with 
good sense, or good fortunes, and good nature, cannot want 
the pleasure of pleasing others, by assisting with their gifts, 
their credit, and their advice, such as deserve it. 

Socrates used to say, that 'twas pleasant to grow old 
with good health and a good friend. But there cannot 
indeed live a more unhappy creature than an ill-natured 
old man, who is neither capable of receiving pleasures, nor 
sensible of doing them to others ; and, in such a condition, 
it is time to leave them. 

Thus have I traced, in this essay, whatever has fallen 
in my way or thoughts to observe concerning life and 
health, and which I conceived might be of any public use 
to be known or considered ; the plainness wherewith it is 
written easily shows there could be no other intention ; and 
it may at least pass, like a Derbyshire charm, which is 
used among sick cattle, with these words : ^'If it does thee 
no good, it will do thee no harm." 


Fatal effects of luxury and ease! 

We drink our poison, and we eat disease. 

Indulge our senses at our reason's cost. 

Till sense is pain, and reason hurt or lost. 

Not so, Temperance "bland! when ruled by thee. 

The brute's obedient, and the man is free. 

Soft are his slumbers, balmy is his rest. 

His veins not boiling from the midnight feast, 

Touch'd by Aurora's rosy hand, he waTces 

Peaceful and calm, and with the world partakes 

The joyful dawnings of returning day. 

For which their grateful thanks the whole creation pay, 

All but the human brute: 'tis he alone. 

Whose works of darkness fly the rising sun. 

'Tis to thy rules, Temperance ! that we owe 

All pleasures, which from health and strength can flow; 

Vigour of body, purity of mind. 

Unclouded reason, sentiments refined, 

Unmixi, untainted joys, without remorse, 

Th' intemperate sinner^s never-failing curse. 

— Mary Chandler, 

I would recommend to everyone thai admirable 
precept which Pythagoras is said to have given to his 
disciples. , , : "Pitch upon that course of life which is 
the most excellent, and custom will render it the most 
delightful." Men whose circumstances will permit them 
to choose their own way of life are inexcusable if they do 
not pursue that which their judgment tells them is the 
m^st laudable. The voice of reason is more to be re- 
garded than the bent of any present inclination, since, 
by the rule above mentioned, inclination will at length 
come over to reason, though we can never force reason to 
comply with inclination. — Joseph Addison. 


A Short Histoby 



Some Accoxmr 





Baktolomeo Gamba 



Health, brightest visitant from heaven. 

Grant me with thee to rest! 
For the short term hy nature given. 

Be thou my constant guest! 
For all the pride that wealth bestows. 
The pleasure that from children flows, 
Whate'er we court in regal state 
That makes men covet to be great; 

Whatever sweets we hope to find 

In Love's delightful snare; 
Whatever good by Heaven assign'd. 

Whatever pause from care : 
All flourish at thy smile divine; 
The spring of loveliness is thine. 
And every joy that warms our hearts. 
With thee approaches and departs. 

— Robert Bland. 




CoRNARO Family 


Nor can the skillful herald trace 
The founder of thy ancient race. 

— Jonathan Swift. 

The nohle steeds, and harness bright. 
And gallant lord, and stalwart Jcnight, 
In rich array — 

Where shall we seeh them now? Alas! 
Like the bright dewdrops on the grass. 
They passed away. 

— Manrique {trans, hy Longfellow). 

NEVEK was parent better repaid by the steadfast devotion 
of her children than was that Mistress of the Seas, who, 
century after century, was the wonder and admiration of 
mankind ; the center of the trade and finance of the world, su- 



preme as she was in every mart; the most valiant defender of 
civilization in its wars against the Turks ; as well as the example 
to humanity, and its inspiration, in all the arts of peace. 

Among her patriotic sons and daughters, none labored in 
her service with a more earnest self-denial than did the members 
of the illustrious patrician family of COENAKO, whose name 
is found interwoven for centuries in every honorable particular 
of the remarkable history of the Kepublic of Venice. Almost 
every line of the annals of this celebrated family shows unmis- 
takably that their ambition, their aspiration, their toil, their 
courageous exposure — and often sacrifice — of life and fortune, 
were always for the advancement of their country's safety and 
glory, for which their own was counted as naught ; determined, 
as tbey were, that Venice should excel in virtue, power, and 
splendor, any land which presumed to be her rival, and that her 
children should thus enjoy a life of happiness and security. 
This, for generations, was the ruling passion and guiding prin- 
ciple of this proud and noble family. 

The Comari, the history of whom, for generations, added 
imperishable fame to their illustrious source, were descended, 
according to the most authoritative traditions of the chroniclers, 
from the ancient and noble race of the Comelii* of Rome. Hav- 
ing in remote times settled at Rimini, they were subsequently 
among the first inhabitants of Rialto, the name by which Venice 
was known in its infancy. The orthography of the name, during 
the family's long history, was gradually modified ; so that, from 
Comelii, it became successively Comelli, Coronelli, Coronetti, 
Coronarii, and finally Comaro, or Comer. The names Comer 
and Comaro are identical, the first being the abridged Italian 
form of the Venetian Comaro ; in the 18th century some mem- 
bers of the family adopted that of Comer, by which all are now 
known. (To be uniform, the ancient mode — that of Comaro 
— is adhered to throughout this work.) 

Having been enrolled among those who comprised the body 
of the Venetian nobility, the Comaros were included among the 
• See Note M 



first twelve patrician families of the Kepublic, called the apos- 
tolical, or tribunal families, which for centuries gave the mili- 
tary tribunes to the Republic; many of the family were mem- 
bers also of the famous Great Council, established in 1172. 

In the 14th century, the family separated into two distinct 
branches, the first of which was distinguished by contemporaries, 
and later by historians, by the name of Comaro of the Great 
House; the other was that of Comaro Piscopia, so called from 
the castle and fief of Piscopia which they had acquired in the 
island of Cyprus, and which, formerly the property of Giovanni 
Ibelini, Count of Jaffa, had come into the possession of this 
branch of the family by a grant from the king, in 1363, to Fed- 
erico (Frederick) Comaro. This was the branch to which 
Caterina (Catherine) Comaro, Queen of Cyprus; Elena Lu- 
crezia (Helen Lucretia) Comaro, the famous scholar ; and Luigi 
Comaro, the author of *'La Vita Sohria" belonged. After the 
ascent of Caterina to regal power, by her marriage, in 1468, to 
James of Lusignan, King of Cyprus, the branch known as Cor- 
naro of the Great House was also designated by the name of 
Comaro of the Queen. It was then, also, that the family quar- 
tered with their own the royal arms of Cyprus (as shown in 
their coat of arms on page. six of this volume). 

To attempt even a short biography of all the many distin- 
guished members of this noted family would be impossible in a 
work of this nature ; however, abbreviated sketches of the lives 
of a few among those most celebrated may be of interest to the 
reader, and are to be found elsewhere in this volume. Few 
family records, in any country, show so large a number of mem- 
bers who have, by such a variety of paths, attained exalted sta- 
tion. The list comprises a queen, four princely doges of the 
Venetian Republic, twenty-two procurators of St. Mark, nine 
cardinals, patriarchs of Venice and of Constantinople, and a 
host of names made illustrious by noteworthy achievement. As 
valiant leaders in peace or war; as honored councillors and 
trusted diplomats ; as reverend senators and magistrates ; in let- 
ters ; philosophy ; the sciences ; and the arts, — the descendants 
of the Comelii have proudly blazoned a record upon the scroll of 
fame that few historic families can equaL 



Yet, of all this illustrious number, to that plain and unas- 
Buming gentleman and true nobleman, Luigi Comaro, the vet- 
eran author of "La Vita Sobria," is due the greatest distinc- 
tion — the gratitude of all mankind. 

That the memory of the race of Comaro is indelibly pre- 
served in marble and granite, the palaces, once the homes of 
illustrious members of the family; many of the churches of 
Venice, built by their aid, and often wholly or in part at their 
expense ; and the monuments, erected by reverent descendants or 
by a grateful country to do honor to the memory of individuals 
of this great family, — emphatically though silently testify. 

In the Church of Sant' Apostoli — built largely at the ex- 
pense of the family, and rebuilt in 1750 — is a magnificent Cor- 
naro Chapel, supported by fanciful Corinthian pillars. This 
chapel — erected in 1575 — contains the sepulchral urn of 
Marco (Mark) Comaro, father of Queen Caterina, and that of 
her brother, the famous nobleman Giorgio (Greorge) Comaro — 
the husband of Elisabetta Morosini — who died July 31, 1527. 

In the magni^cent Italian-Gothic Church of Santi Gio- 
vanni e Paolo, better known as San Zanipolo, and often called 
The Westminster Abbey of Venice, — begun in 1234, but not 
finished until 1430, — is the gorgeous mausoleum of the Doge 
Marco Comaro, the sarcophagus decorated with roses, the canopy 
above it adorned with five very beautiful statues, the work of 
the most celebrated Venetian sculptors of the Middle Ages ; here 
also may be seen the sepulchral urn of Pietro (Peter) Comaro, 
who died in 1361. 

In the Church of San Salvatore, — begun in 1506 and com- 
pleted about 1534, — where lie the remains of Queen Caterina, 
in the center of a Corinthian portico there is a beautiful monu- 
ment erected to her memory in the year 1570, the relief repre- 
senting her resigning her crown to Doge Agostino Barbarigo 
(the 74th doge of Venice, 1486-1501) ; as well as one erected in 
the 16th century to three Comaro cardinals, Marco, Francesco 
(Francis), and Andrea (Andrew). 

In the Church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari — de- 
signed about 1250, and containing the colossal monument of Ti- 



tan, unveiled in 1853 — is the chapel of Angelo Comaro, sculp- 
tured in marble (15th oenturj). In the Church of Santa Maria 
della Salute — founded in 1631 as a monument of thanksgiving 
for the cessation of the great plague, and thus known as one of 
The Great Plague Churches of Venice — is the sepulchral urn of 
Antonio (Anthony) Comaro, rich in carvings (16th century). 
In the Church of San Pietro di Castello — the Cathedral of 
Venice from the earliest days of the Eepublic until 1807 — is 
the urn of Filippo (Philip) Comaro, very rich in ornaments 
(16th century). In the Seminary (II Seminario) is the urn of 
another Antonio Cornaro, with bas-reliefs representing infants 
and griffins (16th century). There is also a Cornaro monument 
in the Church of I Tolentini. 

It is impossible to do justice, in this work, to the beauty 
and grandeur, or to the historic associations, of the several mag- 
nificent palaces in Venice, once the homes of members of the 
Comaro family, but now either inhabited by strangers, or else 
converted to the use of the public or of the government; conse- 
quently, we shall allude to them very briefly. 

At that part of the venerable city known as Sant* ApostoH, 
is a Cornaro Palace of the 16th century, the whole fagade of 
which was originally painted in fresco. At San Samuele, and 
facing upon the Grand Canal, is an imposing Comaro Palace, 
which, in the early part of the 18th century, was the home of 
the nobleman Girolamo (Jerome) Comaro. Another, at San 
Canciano, was, in the 18th century, the home of the senator and 
famous author Flaminio (Flaminius) Comaro. 

At San Cassiano, in the Street of the Queen, is the Cor- 
naro Palace of the Queen, the old name of palace and street 
being still retained ; here was bom, in 1454, Caterina Comaro, 
afterward Queen of Cyprus. The ancient pile, however, does 
not exist, the present one having been erected upon the site of 
the old one in 1724. The new edifice, inelegant in style, mani- 
fests the decadence of art; but the entrance from the Grand 
Canal is really imposing, and is said to have cost an immense 
Bimi. This structure is now a Mount of Piety (Italian, Monte 
di pietd), a government establishment, the object of which is to 



lend money, no matter how small in amount, at only a nominal 
interest, to those who are in necessity; this custom, originating 
in Italy in the 15th century, has since been adopted in various 

Giovanni (John) Comaro, nephew of Queen Caterina, 
built, in 1548, upon an old site in the square of San Polo, what 
is now known as the great Comaro-Mocenigo-Revedin Palace, of 
which Sammicheli was the architect. This palace gave to the 
neighboring street the name of Comaro. The Comaro Palace 
of the Great House, a massive and magnificent pile, with a 
Doric, Ionic, and Composite front, was erected (by Sansovino) 
in 1532, at San Maurizio, by the nephews of Queen Caterina ; it 
faces the Grand Canal, and is now the office of the Royal Prefect 
of the Province. There are two other Comaro Palaces on the 
Grand Canal : one in the Court of the Tree, now called the Cor- 
naro-Spinelli Palace, a work of the Renaissance ; the other, at 
San Benedetto, at the comer of the Canal of the Mails, is now 
called the Comaro-Mocenigo Palace, and is used as the office of 
the city's water-works. 

The Comaro-Piscopia Palace at San Luca — later called, 
and still known as, the Loredan Palace, and now used as the pal- 
ace (or offices) of the municipality of Venice — was, in the 14th 
century, the residence of Federico Comaro, whose guest Peter 
of Lusignan, King of Cyprus, was in 1363 and 1364. To show 
his gratitude, in addition to the grant of the fief of Piscopia in 
his kingdom, the King created Comaro a knight of an ancient 
Cyprian order, having for its motto "To maintain loyalty** 
("Pour loyaute maintenir" ) . To perpetuate the memory of 
this visit of the King, Comaro caused to be graven upon the 
front of his palace on the Grand Canal, the royal arms of Cy- 
prus beside those of the Comaros, together with the knightly 
emblem of his order ; there they may be seen to this day. The 
exact age and origin of this palace, an early Byzantine one, are 
not known ; but it is believed to date back as early as the 10th 
or 11th century. In ^'The Stones of Venice" Ruskin says of it: 
"Though not conspicuous and often passed with neglect, the 
Loredan Palace, will, I believe, be felt at last, by all who exam- 
ine it carefully, to be the most beautiful of all the palaces in the 



whole extent of the Grand Canal. It has been restored often, 
once in the Gothic, once in the Renaissance times — some writers 
say even rebuilt ; but, if so, rebuilt in its old form." It was in 
this palace, in the year 1646, that that marvel of her age, Elena 
Lucrezia Comaro, was bom. 

When the great name of Comaro and the prosperity of the 
family were at their zenith, their sumptuous palaces were filled 
with memorials of the glorious history of their ancestors. These 
mute testimonials to the prowess of warriors, as well as to the 
victors in more peaceful pursuits, were to be seen in an abund- 
ance more than sufficient to satisfy the most ambitious. 

Nor will the visitor in Venice, once familiar with its 
streets, have any reason for ignorance of the existence of the 
name of Comaro; for here, too, will he be confronted by 
mementos of this ancient family. 

At San Maurizio, the footway and bridge known as Comaro 
Zaguri lead to the Comaro Palace of the Great House, as the 
Street of the Queen, at San Cassiano, leads to the Comaro Pal- 
ace of the Queen ; and the street which gives access to the Cor- 
naro Palace that faces on the Grand Canal, at San Samuele, is 
still called Comaro. Another, bearing the family name, is 
Comaro Street, near the square of San Polo, named after the 
palace in the square. 

The Comaro family began to be interested in the Paduan 
country for the first time, so far as is known by the records, in 
the year 1406, when Francesco Comaro became the proprietor of 
a portion of the confiscated property of the ancient lords of Car- 
rara — from 1318 to 1405 the sovereign lords of Padua. The 
palace on the Via Melchiorre Cesarotti in Padua, built by Luigi 
Comaro, is still in existence, and is known as the Comaro Pal- 
aoei In the Church of San Antonio in Padua, one of the most 
remarkable buildings in Italy, — begun about 1230 and com- 
pleted in 1307, — there is a monument dedicated to Caterino 
Comaro, General of the Republic of Venice in the wars against 
the Turks. 



When Caterina became Queen of Cyprus, the power of the 
Comaro family in that kingdom was naturally increased. It is 
certain, however, that they were not only residents of the island, 
but possessed considerable influence there, for a long time prior 
to this event; and it is known that, in the middle of the 14th 
century, their wealth and position were such that the king re- 
sorted to them for a considerable loan of money. At the court 
of Cyprus, Venice was regularly represented by a consul; and 
some contemporaneous documents go to prove the zeal which the 
Venetian Senate showed in having his appointed salary paid, and 
in seeing, at the same time, that the debts contracted by that 
court with Venetian merchants and bankers should be discharged. 
In one of these documents, dated September 17, 1455, it is de- 
plored that "injustice should have been committed, to the damage 
of the heirs and claimants of Giovanni Comaro" ; and, further- 
more, that "the noble citizen Marco Comaro," father of Cat- 
erina, "should have been injured in his rights in not receiving 
that which the king owed him." The tutelage of Venice over 
Cyprus was, indeed, so diligent as to interest the king in the 
solution of a question of water necessary for the good culture 
of the sugar-cane in the fief of the Cornaros. 

But with the glory, the power, and the commanding in- 
fluence of The Queen of the Adriatic, that, too, of the race of the 
Comari has well-nigh departed. The fortunes and personality 
of a house whose opulence and greatness were seldom, if ever, 
surpassed by any of their countrymen, and the lives of whose 
sons and daughters have furnished themes for an almost endless 
number of writers, are now but a memory. In Venice there are, 
to-day, five families who bear the name, and who, as descendants 
of the old race, are recognized as belonging to the Venetian 
patriciate. Not a Comaro, however, lives in the halls of his 
ancestors. But the patriotic fire of the lords of generations ago 
still bums in the breasts of their children ; proud of the history 
of their family, they still hold Queen Caterina especially dear ; 
and, in order to perpetuate the memory of that noble woman, a 
custom was long since instituted to give the name of Caterino to 
a male child, in the event of the denial, to any family, of a girl 



Among the many portraits of the members of this cele- 
brated family — not elsewhere mentioned in this work — is that 
of Giorgio Comaro, in the collection of the Earl of Carlisle ; and 
The Comaro Family, in Alnwick Castle, the baronial residence 
of the dukes of Northumberland, — both by Titian. 


Man's rich with little, were his judgment true; 
Nature is frugal, and her wants are few; 
These few wants, answered, hring sincere delights; 
Bui fools create themselves new appetites. 

At thirty, man suspects himself a fool. 
Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan; 
At fifty, chides his infamous delay. 
Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve. 
In all the magnanimity of thought; 
Resolves, and re-resolves, then dies the same. 
And why ? Because he thinks himself inmwrtal. 
All men think all men mortal hut themselves. 

— Edward Young. 





The Cornaro Family 


Fbom Lives thus spent thy eaethly Duties leabn ; 
Fbom Fancy's Dreams to active Virtue turn : 
Let Freedom, Friendship, Faith, thy Soul engage. 
And serve, like them, thy Country and thy Age.* 

illustrious women of the Renaissance, was the daughter of 
Marco Cornaro — grandson of the Doge Marco Cornaro — 
and Fiorenza, his wife; and was bom in the city of Venice, 
November 25, 1454, in that Cornaro Palace to which — as well 
as to the present one, built in the 18th century on the site of the 

• See Note N 



ancient structure — the fact of her birth and of her subsequent 
elevation to royal power gave the name of the Comaro Palace of 
the Queen, and, to the street in which it is located, the name of 
the Street of the Queen. 

Her brilliant, though mournful, history has afforded a 
theme for many writers in all languages. Giving evidence at an 
early age of rare qualities of mind, character, and person, — for 
there were few, if any, of her countrywomen who excelled her in 
charm and grace, — she was educated with the scrupulous care 
due the daughter of a royal house ; as on her mother's side she 
had an imperial ancestry by reason of her descent from the Com- 
neni emperors of Trebizond. She was married July 10, 1468, 
— when not yet fifteen years of age, — with the most gorgeous 
and extraordinary ceremonies and public rejoicings, to James of 
Lusignan, King of Cyprus, whose love for her was first aroused 
on seeing her portrait in the hands of her uncle, Andrea Cor- 
naro ; at the same time she was adopted by the Venetian Senate 
as The Daughtee of the Republic, in order that her rank 
might equal that of her husband ; and a dowry of one hundred 
thousand golden ducats was presented to her. 

In 1473, on the death of her husband in his thirty-third 
year, she succeeded him on the throne as Queen of Cyprus ; in 
August, 1474, she suffered the loss of the infant Prince James, 
her only child — bom August, 1473 ; and after a troubled reign 
of sixteen years, — during which time she acquired the well- 
deserved reputation of a very superior, wise, energetic, liberal 
woman, — worried by political jealousies and intrigues, she ab- 
dicated, February 26, 1489, in favor of the Venetian Republic. 
On her return to Venice, she was received with great pomp and 
consideration, the reigning doge himself meeting her in the cele- 
brated historic Bucentaur.* The beautiful country-seat and 
castle of Asolo, nineteen miles from Treviso and still in exist- 
ence, was given her in sovereignty ; this, together with her palace 
in Venice, she made her home for the remainder of her life, 
spending her time in works of charity, in the cultivation of her 
rural retreat, and in the pleasures of art and literature — main- 
taining at Asolo a court for poets, scholars, and artists. 
• See Note O. 



Her death occurred at Venice, July 10, 1510 ; and the body 
of the dead Queen was followed by all the dignitaries of Church 
and State, as well as by a vast concourse of citizens, to its rest- 
ing-place in the Comaro Chapel in the Church of Sant' Apos- 
toli ; whence it was removed in 1660, and placed in her mauso- 
leum in the right transept of the Church of San Salvatore, 
where it now lies. The inscription, in Latin, plainly marks the 
final home of the remains of "Catherine, Queen of Cyprus, Jeru- 
salem, and Armenia." 

Her eminent relative, Cardinal Bembo, in his *'GU Aso- 
laniy pays a high tribute to her intellectual qualities, as well as 
her many womanly virtues. Her portrait, taken at the age of 
eighteen, in her crown and queenly robes, was painted by Titian ; 
another, by Veronese, hangs in the Belvedere at Vienna ; while 
the one by Pordenone is in the Dresden Gallery. A magnificent 
painting of her by Makart hangs in the National Gallery at 
Berlin ; in it, as Queen of Cyprus, she is seen receiving the prof- 
fered homage of the Venetian patricians. 

NARO PISCOPIA, one of the most accomplished and illus- 
trious women of her day, was bom at Venice, June 5, 1646, in 
the Comaro Piscopia Palace — now the Loredan. She was the 
daughter of Giovanni Battista (John Baptist) Cornaro, Pro- 
curator of St. Mark, and of Zanetta Boni, his wife. 

Naturally of a very retiring as well as devotional disposi- 
tion, she wished to enter some religious order ; but her father's 
entreaties altered her purpose. For, recognizing, while she was 
still a child, her extraordinary gifts, he determined that nothing 
should interfere with his cherished ambition that his family 
should possess, in the person of his beautiful daughter, — 
though so delicate and modest, and averse to the world or to any 
kind of publicity, — the most learned woman of her day. This 
purpose he realized, albeit at the early sacrifice of the health, 
and, indeed, of the life, of the innocent victim of his paternal 
and ancestral pride. 



Although entirely devoid of vrorldly ambition, yet, in order 
that she might not disappoint the parent whose every hope was 
centered in his daughter's triumph, she devoted all her energies 
to the task assigned her; so that, such were her wonderful 
powers of mind and memory, she soon excelled in every branch 
of learning. She acquired a perfect knowledge of many of the 
modem languages, — writing them with ease and speaking them 
fluently, — as well as of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic. 
Her natural taste for poetry and music was so highly cultivated, 
that she sang, in a sweet and flexible voice, her own verses in 
various languages, set to music of her own composition, and to 
her own accompaniment, either on the viol, harp, or harpsichord. 
She became a perfect mistress of many of the arts and sciences, 
and of ancient and modem history, including, of course, that of 
her own country and family. In theology, philosophy, and dia- 
lectics she was no less accomplished. In a word, her response to 
her father's appeal was so sincere that, although deaf to the ap- 
plause of all, — nay, embarrassed by the admiration she con- 
stantly excited, distasteful to her as it was unavoidable, — she 
became a miracle of learning. 

On a certain occasion, the haughty Venetian Senate went so 
far as to suspend an important session, in order that they might 
go in a body to hear a disputation in which, with that eloquence 
for which she was noted, she was engaged in the presence of an 
illustrious gathering, as was the fashion of the time. Contrary 
to her wishes, she was created a master of arts and doctor of 
philosophy by the renowned University of Padua, — founded 
early in the 13th century by the Emperor Frederick II., — re- 
ceiving the title of The Uitalteeable. The ceremony, which 
took place June 25, 1678, in the Cathedral of Padua, was 
attended by illustrious scholars of all countries, and was wit- 
nessed by an immense multitude, attracted by the unwonted 
spectacle. She was also elected to membership in all the prin- 
cipal literary societies of Italy. At Home, she was admitted at 
the University, and was entitled The Humble; and princes 
and representatives of all nations paid homage to her learning 
and virtues. Her hand was asked in marriage by some of the 



most noted men of her time; all of these offers, however, in 
obedience to a resolution made in her girlhood, she declined. 

Her uninterrupted application to her studies, but especially 
the atmosphere of unwelcome publicity in which she had always 
lived, — so uncongenial and often painful to her sensitive na- 
ture, — completed the ruin of her naturally delicate health. Al- 
though anticipating her death to be not far distant, yet, to fur- 
ther please her father, — blind to her critical condition, — she 
wrote eulogies upon many of the most eminent personages of her 
day; these were followed by her remarkable panegyric on the 
Kepublic of Venice. 

But the replies to these final efforts, which had been accom- 
plished at such a fearful cost to her health and life, found the 
illustrious maiden stretched upon a bed of pain, which, in a short 
time, proved to be her couch of death — the release from her suf- 
ferings coming to her in the city of Padua, July 26, 1684. 
From that day to the 29th, — the day of her funeral, — when 
her body was laid to rest in the Church of Santa Giustina, the 
city, with all affairs suspended, presented the spectacle of a uni- 
versal, heartfelt grief, so deeply in the affections of all was she 
enshrined. Her death was recorded by poetical effusions from 
the learned of Europe. In an eloquent oration, pronounced at a 
funeral solenmity performed in her honor at Kome, she was 
celebrated as triumphing over three monsters, Pride, Luxury, 
and Ignorance. At the foot of the staircase on the right of the 
entrance to the University of Padua, is a statue erected to her 
memory in 1773. 

The first edition of her works was published at Parma in 

MARCO (MARK) CORNARO, the 69th dog© of Venice, 
held that princely and historic office from July 21, 1365, to 
January 13, 1368, when he died at the age of eighty-two — one 
of the most famous doges of The Golden Book.* During his 
term the Venetians waged a bitter war against the Turks and, 
also, subdued the rebellion in Candia. His tomb is in the 
Church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo. 
• See Note P 



GIOVANNI (JOHN)— I. — COKNAKO, the 96th 
doge of Venice, was elected January 4, 1625, as the successor of 
Francesco Contarini (doge, 1623-1624). During his reign the 
Venetians defended Mantua against the Imperial army; about 
which period a severe plague raged in Venice and throughout 
northern Italy. At this time, also, occurred a bitter feud be- 
tween the powerful Zeno family — descendants of Renier Zeno, 
the 46th doge of Venice^ 1253-1268 — and his own. Comaro 
died December 23, 1629. 

of Venice, was bom May 6, 1585. He was the son of Doge Gio- 
vanni (I.) Comaro, and was chosen to his exalted office May 17, 
1656. During his very short term — he died June 5 of the same 
year — the Venetians continued their victories over the Turks. 

GIOVANNI (JOHN)— II.-— CORNARO, the 111th 
doge of Venice, was bom August 4, 1647. His mother, Cornelia 
Contarini, was of that illustrious family which gave the great 
Republic eight of its one hundred and twenty doges, a greater 
number than can be claimed for any other family. He was 
elected doge May 22, 1709. During his administration the Turks 
made war on Venice and, in 1715, took the Morea. He conclud- 
ed these hostilities by the peace of Passarowitz, July 21, 1718. 
It was during his term that Venice lost her last possessions in the 
island of Candia. He died August 21, 1722. He married his 
relative, Laura Comaro, who survived him, dying in May, 1729. 
He also left three sons, Francesco, Nicolo (Nicholas), and Al- 

three Venetian commanders in the struggle with the Genoese 
known as the War of Chioggia (1379-1381), impoverished him- 
self by the voluntary sacrifice of his princely fortune to the use 
of his country. In August, 1379, when it was thought the 
Genoese might attack the city, arms were distributed to the peo- 
ple, and Comaro was placed in command. 



GIOEGIO (GEORGE) CORNARO, nephew of the Doge 
Marco Comaro, held during his lifetime many positions of 
trust and responsibility, both civil and military. He was a 
nobleman of sterling worth and considerable influence, his ex- 
alted patriotism inspiring ceaseless efforts for the welfare of his 
country ; and such was the exposure consequent to his zeal in his 
profession of arms, that it caused the sacrifice of his health, and 
finally of his life, in her service. He died December, 1439, 
and his remains were followed by the entire population of Ven- 
ice to their final resting-place in the Comaro Chapel in the 
Church of Sant' Apostoli. 

ANDREA (ANDREW) CORNARO, a Venetian noble- 
man, and uncle of Caterina, Queen of Cyprus, was an extensive 
trader in that island. He and his nephew, Marco Bembo, were 
murdered during the political disturbances subsequent to the 
death of Caterina's husband, King James. 

MARCO (MARK) CORNARO, son of Giorgio Comaro 
and Elisabetta Morosini his wife, and nephew of Queen Cat- 
erina, became Patriarch of Constantinople. He was a very em- 
inent man and of great service to Venice. He died at that city, 
July 20, 1524. 

1488. In early years he followed a military life, and became 
distinguished as a leader in the army of Venice in the wars — 
in which his country became involved — caused by the rival am- 
bitions of Francis I., King of France, and Charles V., Emperor 
of Germany. When peace was secured he abandoned the pro- 
fession of arms and devoted himself to politics and literature, 
becoming the ambassador of the Republic to the court of Charles 
V. He was a man of great learning, and, in 1527, was created 
a cardinal. He died September, 1543, in his fifty-fifth year, and 
was buried in the Church of San Salvatore, where his monu- 
ment may still be seen. 



ALVISE (LOUIS) CORNARO, Knight of Malta and 
Grand Prior of Cyprus, was bom February 12, 1516, and died 
at Rome, May 10, 1584. 

Doge Giovanni (I.) Comaro, was made Patriarch of Venice in 
1632. He was Grand Prior of Cyprus, and died June 5, 1653, 
at the age of seventy-eight. 

1632 ; he succeeded the illustrious Francesco Morosini as Cap- 
tain-General of the Venetian army when, in 1688, the latter 
was elected the 108th doge of the Republic — the last of that 
family to attain the ducal dignity. Cornaro's valuable services 
to his country were, however, cut short in 1690 by his untimely 
death from fever at Valona, — a seaport town in Albania, Eu- 
ropean Turkey, — which the Turks had held since 1464, and 
the Venetians, under his command, had besieged and recovered. 
His loss was regarded as a great calamity. 

a younger brother of the Doge Giovanni (II.) Cornaro, was 
bom August 1, 1658. His early years were spent in the military 
service of his country; abandoning this, he entered the field of 
politics, holding many offices of considerable responsibility, for 
which his great learning, and the experience gained by exten- 
sive foreign travel, eminently qualified him. In 1692 he repre- 
sented Venice at the court of Portugal, and was later tendered 
the office of ambassador to the French king; this honor, how- 
ever, he declined, preferring to embrace an ecclesiastical life. He 
was a member of the order of Knights of Malta, a religious and 
military order instituted in the 11th century; was also Grand 
Prior of Cyprus, an office hereditary in his family; and was 
made a cardinal July 22, 1697. He died August 10, 1722. 

Venice, Febmary 4, 1693, where he died December 28, 1778. 



He was a Venetian Senator, and was distinguished for great 
learning, attaining eminence as a hagiographer, historian, and 
antiquarian. He was the author, in 1749, of a valuable work 
on the churches of Venice (15 vols.), and of another on those of 
Torcello (3 vols.). His home was the Comaro Palace at San 
Canciano, in Venice. 

ANDEEA (ANDREW) CORNARO was Governor of the 
island of Candia, and fell while fighting valiantly at Retimo, on 
the northern coast of the island. 


Health is, indeed, so necessary to all the duties as 
well as pleasures of life, that the crime of squandering 
it is equal to the folly; and he that for a short gratiftcor 
tion brings weakness and diseases upon himself, and for 
the pleasure of a few years passed in the tumults of diver- 
sion and clamors of merriment condemns the maturer and 
more experienced part of his life to the chamber and the 
couch, may be justly reproached, not only as a spend- 
thrift of his happiness, but as a robber of the public; as a 
wretch that has voluntarily disqualified himself for the 
business of his station, and refused that part which Prov- 
idence assigns him in the general task of human na- 
ture. — Samuel Johnson. 






Delivered on the Tenth Day of August, 1817, in the 

Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Venice, on 

The Occasion of the Annual 

Distribution of 


OIT THIS most impressive occasion, amid these appropriate 
surroundings, after the dignified speeches you have 
heard, I shrink from addressing you, my Lord Count the 
Governor, supreme magistrates of this city, most learned pro- 
fessors, worthy scholars — all of you, my kind hearers ; but I 
speak in grateful submission to the honorable charge laid upon 
me, in obedience to the statutes of this Koyal Academy, which 
direct that every year shall be renewed the praises of those 
among our national geniuses who have so distinguished them- 
selves as to be most deserving in the three divine arts of design. 

To-day, since this august temple of the Muses is more re- 
splendent than ever, he should not presume to attempt fulfilling 
this noble office who but imperfectly knows and understands 

♦ See Note Q 



their alluring graces. As for me, to come forth as little inglori- 
ously as possible from this difficult undertaking, I intend to de- 
vote my efforts to another object; and I trust that I shall see 
your courtesy smile upon me, if, leaving aside pencil, rule, and 
chisel, I look rather toward those who protect artists, and call 
your attention to a most remarkable Maecenas.* I shall thus, 
overcoming any excessive timidity, be able to entertain you a lit- 
tle regarding the advantages which students of the Academy may 
derive from this kind of tutelage ; and I shall present to you, in 
his proper light, a great man of the sixteenth century who be- 
longed to the order of the Venetian patriciate. 

LUIGI COKNAKO is known to all cultured nations by 
the famous abstemiousness of his long career and by the golden 
rules he formulated concerning the temperate life ; but it is not 
perhaps so well known how deeply versed he was in the arts, how 
much he loved artists, and how faithfully he labored in their in- 
terest. I shall speak now of these merits of his, and I shall do 
it with the rapidity of a hasty traveler who does but lightly ob- 
serve and examine. If I turn my eyes upon Comaro in prefer- 
ence to so many other great men, who, for the good of the arts, 
were nurtured upon these shores, I trust the choice will be ap- 
proved ; since it will bear upon a subject honorable to our fellow- 
citizens, pleasing to our worthy professors, useful to these valiant 
youths — one which may, in fine, be heard patiently by every 
kind and gentle souL 

Of the youthful years of our Comaro, spent in Padua, there 
is little to say, and that little were better left unsaid. Although 
well trained in excellent studies, as became a gentleman of fine 
intellect, he admits that he soon put his studies aside, and wasted 
his time in thoughtlessness and excesses; from which cause he 
contracted infirm health and such bad habits that, having arrived 
at the age of thirty-five, he had nothing left to hope for but that 
he might end in death the sufferings of a worn-out and discon- 
solate life. Let us not linger, my dear young men, over this 
state of affairs, which, happily, we shall soon see corrected; but 

* See Note R 



let 118 learn, by his example, how important it is to follow the 
straight path of virtue and study. Though the contrary way of 
dissipation and idleness may seem, to some, to be one of peace 
and calmness, in reality it is nothing but war and storm. 

When he had grown ripe in years and judgment, his inborn 
love having unfolded toward those sister arts which are the dear- 
est ornaments of our native land, Comaro found in them the 
truest, most useful, and most delightful entertainment. Let us 
listen to the substance of his words : "O most honorable gentle- 
men, great in intellect, in manners, and in letters, and you who 
excel in some other quality, come with me to honor the arts and 
artists, and, in doing so, obtain satisfaction and comfort ! . . . I 
live in the most beautiful part of this noble and learned city of 
Padua, and derive from it a thousand advantages. I build ac- 
cording to architecture, enjoy my several gardens, and always 
find something to delight me. ... In April and May, as also in 
September and October, I find other pleasures in enjoying a 
country-seat of mine among the Euganean Hills, — in the finest 
site thereof, — with its fountains and gardens, and, above all, its 
commodious and beautiful abode; also my villa in the plain, 
which is very fine, with streets and a square, and a church much 
honored ; . . . a coimtry, which, once deserted on account of bad 
air and marshy waters, is now, by my labors, all rich in inhab- 
itants and fields most fertile ; so that I may say, with truth, that 
in this spot I have given to God an altar, a temple, and souls to 
adore Him. . . . Here I take pleasure with men of fine intellect 
— architects, painters, sculptors, musicians, and agriculturists ; 
for, indeed, with such men our age is abundantly furnished." 

And you well know, gentlemen, how fruitful that age was 
in fine minds. Happy age! Private individuals vied with 
noblemen and princes to rejoice the heavens with splendid light ; 
and, thanks to this union of choice spirits, the geniu* of Italy 
was aroused, literature came to the fore, the arts turived, and a 
refined delicacy was diffused into every liberal study. Let us 
not stir from this incomparable Venice of ours and we will see 
that, if her noblest citizens — a Daniel Barbaro, a Cardinal 
Bembo, a Doge Gritti, a Cardinal Grimani, a Giorgio Trissino 



of Vicenza, and our own Comaro — had not lived, the world 
would perhaps have never seen a Titian, a Paolo [Veronese] , a 
Sammicheli, a Palladio. How many, indeed, are the opportuni- 
ties of an intelligent protector ! Besides showing himself liberal 
of his substance, he converses with his learned friend, whose in- 
ventions and fancies are thus fostered ; he goes to the office of the 
rich merchant, into whom he transfuses the enthusiasm with 
which he himself is filled ; . . . nor does he neglect any occasion 
whatsoever that the arts may gloriously flourish. In Greece, the 
mother of all elegance and philosophy, the Porticos and the 
Piraeus became earth and brambles, once the ages of Pericles 
and Alexander were past ; and in earth and brambles the Laocoon 
and the Apollo for centuries lay buried. 

Among the many artists for whom Comaro entertained a 
strong affection, — proofs of which he has left us, — I shall 
limit myself to telling you of one. Giovanni Maria Falconetto* 
of Verona, who excelled as painter, architect, and sculptor, 
flourished in his day. This man was a good speaker, frank and 
pleasant; and, after having wandered hither and thither, he 
found a refuge in the hospitable home of our Comaro, who of- 
fered him the most generous recognition. These two souls were 
soon united in close fellowship ; and there followed many learned 
and agreeable conversations, and the most valued friendship and 

A large collection of drawings, which Falconetto Lad 
brought with him from Rome, so fascinated Comaro with the 
attractions of that queenly city that he insisted upon going to 
visit it, in company with his friend. He departed for Eome, 
rich in expectations ; most rich in knowledge, he returned to his 
beloved Padua. There he erected a magnificent loggia, deco- 
rated it with paintings, statues, and pictures taken from the 
designs of Raphael, and inclosed in its courtyard a most noble 
casino, devoted to music — all under the superintendence and 
according to the directions of his friend Falconetto. He also 
availed himself of his assistance in other grand constructions at 
his villa at Codovico, on the Paduan hill, and at Luigiano, near 
Torreglia, among the Euganean Hills. Nor did the happy 

* See Note F 



alliance between the Maecenas and the artist ever cease ; and the 
latter was comforted at his death by the assurance that the most 
hospitable kindness would ever be lavished upon his wife, three 
sons, and six daughters, the fortunes of all of whom remained, 
in fact, at the mercy of the credit and authority of their patron 
and friend. The candid soul of Luigi bore so great a predilec- 
tion to Falconetto and another happy mind, the Paduan Ruz- 
zante,* that Vasari has related, in his works, how Comaro 
wished that Falconetto and Euzzante should be buried together, 
and that he might be the third to share the same grave — in 
order that (says the historian) "not even after death should their 
bodies be separated, whose souls friendship and virtue had 
united whilst living." 

I have pointed out some of the edifices designed and erected 
by Comaro ; and it will be pleasing to you, gentlemen, if I re- 
mind you that the magnificent loggia raised in Padua is still in 
existence and much admired, and that the very celebrated archi- 
tect Sebastiano Serlio proposed the designs of this masterpiece 
to the studious as a model worthy of imitation. Temanza, in his 
account of the life of Falconetto, also speaks to us, at length, of 
the buildings erected in the villa at Codovico, where he still 
found remains of perfect invention and execution ; it was there 
he discovered a portrait of our most honored Maecenas, one that I 
should like to see decorating this magnificent hall on this solemn 
occasion in which I am striving to recall his deeds. Temanza 
was not well informed when speaking to us of the palace at 
Luigiano, which he believed had been built near the Sile, not far 
from the city of Trevigio, and razed by time ; but to the culture 
and knowledge of the illustrious Knight Giovanni de Lazzara, I 
owe — and you do, likewise — the pleasing news that this struc- 
ture, with its truly royal stairways, remains standing in that 
most delightful spot I have spoken of among the Euganean Hills. 
It has become the property of the famous Bishopric of Padua, 
and does not belie the estimate given of it in his day by our 
Francesco Marcolini, who, in one of his dedications, wrote thus : 
"If a gentleman wishes to learn how to build in the city, let him 

• See Note S 



come to the Comaro Palace at Padua. ... If he wishes to lay 
out a garden, let him also find his model there. ... If he wants 
to build in the country, let him go and see at Codovico, at Cam- 
pagna, and at other places, the structures created by the nobility 
of Comaro's great soul. ... If he wants to build a palace fit for a 
prince, — out of the city, too, — let him go to Luvignano, where 
he will behold a dwelling worthy to be inhabited by a pontiff or 
an emperor ; . . . Cornaro knows all there is to know in this and 
in the rest of human undertakings." Note, my hearers, that the 
engraver Marcolini was no ordinary man; but was indeed a 
most famous artist, and so skilled in the mechanical sciences that 
he was praised to the skies by Daniel Barbaro himself. 

And here I wish to interrupt my narrative a while to listen 
to you, gentlemen, who take pleasure in considering the things 
which I propound. It seems to me you would wish to rejoin: 
"Granted, that thy Comaro was the mirror of Maecenases — and 
who does not know that to them the arts owe both favor and in- 
crease ? and we may add that they owed these same things at one 
time to the majesty of religion, now enfeebled, . . . and also to 
many men of wealth grown poor to-day. Let a Comaro return 
now, and with him a Titian and a Paolo; let the artists return 
in throngs, — what of it ? Poor father of a family, thou dost 
spend, and indeed waste, for that son of thine who is now a 
studious scholar in this Academy, but who runs the risk of re- 
maining afterward destitute, without bread and without fortune ! 
Poor boy, thou bumest the midnight oil in the sweat of thy brow, 
but in the future thou wilt, perforce, be inactive ; and it would 
be wrong to dare thee to the field of valor, where there will be no 
palms to gather when thou hast attained thy end !" 

I shall not invoke the shade of the Venetian Maecenas to an- 
swer similar whisperings ; for, if our times are not his, it is to 
ours we must conform. I wish to say, however, that many un- 
founded difficulties proceed from vain fears. If religion, the 
comforter, seems to have become feeble, or to have lost its power 
with some, the neglect of a few is not a fault to be laid to the 
many ; and all know that a society without religion is like a ship 
without rudder or sails. Do we not see it burning bravely in 



the hearts of our ruler and so many of his excellent magistrates ; 
burning in the honored breasts of the best of our citizens ; burn- 
ing in the bosoms of noble matrons and of the humble peasant 
girls ? And you need but enter the churches to see the solemn 
services always attended by throngs of people, or to journey 
through the country to witness respect and veneration every- 
where manifested. 

It is only too true that the murderous weapons from beyond 
the hills, catching us unarmed, deprived us of a great part of our 
riches ; and, alas ! too often now the oak stands bare which used 
to tower in vigor. But, perhaps, rather than to the lukewarm- 
ness of divine worship or the swords of the enemy, we might at- 
tribute to other causes the scarcity of work among our artists. 
It is incessantly repeated that we have become poor ; but how is 
it, then, that there is immoderate luxury in all that regards out- 
ward pomp ? that an Indian fabric, a bit of Sevres porcelain, a 
piece of Birmingham earthenware, the gold and silver spun in 
France or Germany, and many other useless but costly trifles 
from foreign countries, never lie dusty in our shops, while the 
hands of our artists are idle ? Pray do not lead me to exclaim 
that there is among us more poverty concerning the true love of 
our country's splendor, than poverty of goods. 

The conditions of modern Italy would with difficulty give 
us back a Comaro ; but there must be other means for the protec- 
tion of the arts, even without so much power as his. 

This Adria of ours is no longer, such as the illustrious Eo- 
berti depicted it, "Like to the ancient Tyre, whose navigators 
were her Phoenicians ; when its commerce, which raised up the 
towers and halls of the lagoons, at the same time made the coim- 
try everywhere populous and honored." Nevertheless, for an ac- 
tive Maecenas of the arts, an earnest magistrate is often suffi- 
cient ; frequently one enlightened citizen is enough, or the wise 
pastor of a church ; and, indeed, we see active Maecenases in not 
a few of the latter, who, in the midst of rural surroundings, erect 
magnificent temples enriched in many ways. By enthusiasm, 
intelligence, and activity, we shall see our buildings repaired and 
beautified, and our houses more properly decorated with the 



riches of our national productions — thus, in a word, our cities 
ennobled. Call to mind, gentlemen, that through the activity 
and fervor of one of our pastors in these latter days, the temple 
of Santi Giovanni e Paolo has been transformed into a magnifi- 
cent gallery; that the worthy Knight Morelli has there rear- 
ranged and enriched, with many relics of the fine arts, a library, 
the most splendid abode Apollo and Minerva could have; that 
the Prefect of the Seminary, Giannantonio Moschini, has con- 
verted a dilapidated building into a magnificent and ornate ly- 
ceum ; that our most illustrious President, whom I name not to 
flatter but to honor, and who is always intent upon honorable un- 
dertakings which nourish the arts and carry their teachings to 
the farthest shores, has obtained for you from our rulers the 
means by which this Academy now ranks above all others. See- 
ing all this, let us rejoice and take comfort — you especially, 
most learned professors. Eejoice that you are the fortunate min- 
isters who maintain here the sacred fire of the divine works of 
the intellect, and know all that is exquisite and hidden in their 
structure. Take comfort in the names of . . . many who were once 
your scholars and who are now the solace and help of their fami- 
lies, their brows wreathed with crowns of honor woven for them 
by your teachings. And you, dearest youths, who are this day 
prepared to receive new and much-desired laurels, never pay 
heed to the reports spread by ignoble fear, but redouble your ear- 
nestness in study ; and you will thus become the delight of your 
friends and the honor of your country. 

Let us return now to Luigi Comaro, and follow him in what 
we may of his long life; nor let us abandon him until its last 
day. Oh, how I wish the chroniclers had been less niggardly to 
us ! Por, history having passed over in silence so many of the 
personal acts of that gentle spirit, we cannot now know positively 
either all his works or many of his writings ; but must be con- 
tent with the little we have, which, like the plan of a majestic 
building, suffices only to make us guess at the grandeur of the 
structure and the splendor of its decorations. The few letters 
which remain to us from his pen, show how well versed he was 
in every noble science ; and, being addressed to great men, such 



as Bembo, Speroni, Barbaro, and Fracastoro, they suffice to 
show of what excellence were his ties of friendship. He left 
nothing undone that would promote intellectual enjoyment. The 
celebrated tragedy, "(Edipiis" by Giovanni Andrea delP An- 
guillara, he caused to be sumptuously presented under his own 
roof for the recreation of the Paduans. The "Canace" of Spe- 
roni was also to have been given in Padua with singular magnifi- 
cence, and to our Luigi was entrusted the direction of the per- 
formance. Forcellini, in his biography of Speroni, relates that 
Comaro's companions in this were Alessandro Piccolomini and 
Angelo Beolco, called Ruzzante; and that, besides having pro- 
vided music, costumes, and luxurious scenery for the beauty of 
the performance, he had prepared a great banquet for forty cho- 
sen gentlewomen and their husbands, the academicians and the 
flower of the men of merit who were at that time in Padua ; but 
the unexpected death of Ruzzante put an end to all these plans. 
Finally, we know how deeply he had studied the works of Vitru- 
vius and Leon Battista Alberti ; and that he was much praised 
by Andrea Palladio, as the inventor of a new kind of stairway 
introduced into his habitations. Nor is that all ; for he dictated 
various treatises concerning painting, architecture, music, and 
agriculture. But the only writings which were not destroyed by 
time, are the discourses upon his cherished temperate life — 
translations of which were published in many foreign tongues 
— and a learned pamphlet upon our lagoons, which he used to 
style "the most strong and holy ramparts" of his dear country. 

I, who like to borrow the words of the aged, which breathe 
candor and simplicity and add faith to speech, beg you to hear 
with me how a cultured Tuscan man of letters, Antonmaria 
Graziani, in the life he wrote of the celebrated Commendone, — 
whose secretary he was, — points out the many blessings which 
our Comaro was in the habit of receiving from the virtuous tem- 
per of his soul. His words are in the Latin tongue, and this is 
their import in ours: "This most honorable man, whom the 
surname of Tempeeate became so well, was courted, revered, 
and respected by all, whether those of eminent birth or those 
distinguished by great intellect ; and men of all ranks of society 
were eager to visit him, for the pleasure of hearing his conversa- 



tion, which was always moderate, pleasant, and ingenious. Pru- 
dence, wisdom, sagacity^ counsel, and liberality formed about 
him a most beautiful and splendid body-guard. No house in 
Padua was more looked up to than his ; and he, always magnifi- 
cent and bountiful, never ceased to bestow upon all — but, in an 
especial manner, upon those conversant with the fine arts — 
every favor of a generous and perfect soul." . . . 

But I shall lead you at length, gentlemen, to the last days 
of Luigi Comaro ; and it will be sweet to you to know that to 
spend one's time unceasingly for the common good is to lay up 
precious consolation for the last hour of our lives. And here I 
shall again make use of Graziani's words, that you may see how 
the tranquil and restful end of our great man . . . was as serene as 
the beautiful sunset of an unclouded day. "The good old man" 
(I follow the faithful translation) "feeling that he drew near 
the end, did not look upon the great transit with fear, but as 
though he were about to pass from one house into another. He 
was seated in his little bed — he used a small and very narrow 
one ; and, at its side, was his wife, Veronica, almost his equal in 
years. In a clear and sonorous voice he told me why he would 
be able to leave this life with a valiant soul ; and he expressed the 
best wishes for the happiness of my Commendone, to whom he 
insisted upon writing with his own hand a letter of advice and 
consolation. He told me he thought he might yet survive two 
days; but, feeling a little later the failure of vital forces, and 
having received anew the assistance of consoling religion, ... he 
exclaimed : 'Glad and full of hope will I go with you, my good 
God!' He then composed himself; and having closed his eyes, 
as though about to sleep, with a slight sigh he left us forever." 
A departure joyful and enviable, but how great a misfortune to 
the world ! For the loss of men of so great wisdom is irrepar- 
able ; nor is anything left to us but to follow, as far as may be, 
their authority and example. . . . 

Dear and noble youths, this solemnity is sacred chiefly to 
you ; and, addressing you, I shall close my discourse. With the 
voice of warmest affection, I urge you to be industrious in win- 
ning for yourselves the patronage of the prince and the assistance 



of the Maecenas; and never again to forget Luigi Comaro and 
the artist Falconetto, his friend. Yes, to-day also you "will find 
protectors, if, having made for yourselves a treasure of all do- 
mestic virtues, you broaden the sphere of your intellect with 
a great variety of knowledge ; and if you will bear in mind that 
he does not win fame and celebrity who is slothful, but rather 
does he who works night and day, so far as human nature will 
permit. Livy and Plutarch have described for us Philopoemen, 
an illustrious leader of armies, and have narrated the great 
labors and efforts which bore him to celebrity. Reynolds set 
that general as an example before his young scholars, and 
showed them that not less arduous are the labors and efforts 
of the artist who would ascend the heights of immortality. 
Therefore, we all trust to your talent and good-will; and by 
you, valiant youths, this city will continually rise to greater 
luster ; which, for delightf ulness of climate, vividness of genius, 
holiness of institutions, majesty and splendor of buildings, and 
for the purest milk afforded the three divine sister arts, has 
ever been famous throughout the whole world. 


"0 flowerets of the field!'* Siddariha said, 

"Who turn your tender faces to the sun, — 

Glad of the light, and grateful with sweet hreath 

Of fragrance and these robes of reverence donned. 

Silver and gold and purple, — none of ye 

Miss perfect living, none of ye despoil 

Your happy "beauty. ye palms! which rise 

Eager to pierce the shy and drink the wind 

Blown fron^ Malaya and the cool blue seas; 

What secret "know ye that ye grow content. 

From time of tender shoot to time of fruit. 

Murmuring such sun-songs from your feathered crowns f** 

— Sir Edwin Arnold 




Reale Liceo Minghetti of 

FAMOUS for his treatise, "La VUa Sohria," which has not 
only been translated into several languages, but has seen 

many editions, the illustrious Venetian gentleman, Luigi 
Comaro, deserves imperishable renown, likewise, for the great 
and useful love which he bore for the arts — particularly for 

"He delighted," we have from Serlio, "in all the noble 
arts and singular attainments; and especially was he fond of 
architecture." It was in the latter that he acquired his title 
to undying fame, as even his contemporaries acknowledged. 
Among these was Ortensio Lando, who, wishing to praise him, 
made this merit precede all others when he called him "a great 
builder, an enthusiastic hunter, and a man of profound piety." 

• See Note T •♦ See Note U 



Architecture was not for him, as it is for so many, purely 
a luxury, and a means by which he could exhibit his riches to 
the envious and wondering eyes of his equals, and of the world 
in general. Rather was it the object of an ardent worship ; so 
much so that he became not only a friend, but even a helper 
and companion, of his artist proteges. 

He studied the works of Vitruvius, Leon Battista Alberti, 
and other writers, and visited the ancient and modem archi- 
tectural monuments ; he originated, according to Palladio, "two 
kinds of stairways" ; and he composed a work on architecture, 
which a relative of his, in a letter dated January 27, 1554, 
insisted should be published; but nothing came of it, and it 
has never been known. 

Fortunately, instead of a treatise on the subject, he left 
something better to us, in the form of several very handsome 
buildings. Much more would he have left had Jiis means 
allowed it; for, as Vasari writes, "He was a man of great 
genius and of a truly regal spirit — the truth of this statement 
being proved by so many of his honored undertakings." This 
opinion is perfectly in accord with that of Pietro Valeriano, 
who, in a Latin dedication of a work to Comaro, wrote : "To- 
day, no private individual understands better than you the 
science, beauty, and elegance of construction, or has more artis- 
tically turned his knowledge to practical use. Had, perchance, 
a destiny worthy of your great soul befallen you, our age 
would be considered inferior to no ancient one in the develop- 
ment of such a noble art." 

What he did accomplish, however, is undoubtedly well 
worthy of being recorded. The ingenious Francesco MarcoHni, 
an expert printer and artist, and designer of the bridge "whence 
Murano watches Venice," was the first and last to prepare a 
list, which is thus the only one we have, of Comaro's buildings. 

One finds this list in a letter, dated June 1, 1544, in which 
the editor, — Marcolini, — dedicating to Cornaro the fourth 
book of Serlio, writes: "To you alone can one give the name 
of 'executor' of true architecture, as is attested by the splendid 



edifices ordered by your superhuman intellect. If a nobleman 
or private gentleman wishes to know how to build in a city, 
let him come to the Comaro Palace at Padua; there he will 
learn how to construct not only a superb portico, but also the 
other parts of sumptuous and comfortable buildings. If he 
wishes to adorn a garden, let him take, as a model, the one 
you have arranged, not only under your dwelling, but crossing 
beneath the highroad for twenty paces — all in rustic style. 
If he is desirous of building in the country, let him go to Code- 
vigo, to Campagna, and to the other places where he will find 
the buildings which are the product of your great genius. 
Whoever wishes to build a princely palace — also away from 
the city — may go to Luvignano; there he will view, with 
astonishment, a mansion worthy of a pope or an emperor, or, 
at any rate, of any prelate or gentleman — a mansion erected 
by the wisdom of your Excellency, who knows all that is pos- 
sible in this and other human achievements." 

With all the exaggerations to be noted in the laudatory 
expressions of those times, Comaro is by Marcolini called 
merely the "executor" of true architecture; this does not mean 
that he was the author of all those magnificent edifices, but 
rather that they were "ordered" by him, as is added later on. 

It ought to have been known even in that time — as Vasari 
tells us, though it is omitted above — that, even if Comaro 
was the architect of his palace in Padua, "the beautiful and 
richly ornamented portico," close by, was the work of the 
skillful Falconetto* — a fact which is also mentioned in the 
inscription existing above the central archway. It should, 
moreover, be remembered that Falconetto "worked a great deal 
with the said Comaro." Without further proofs, and without 
any documents, we think it quite useless at the present day to 
try to discover, by the examination of the architectural style 
alone of what remains, how much is the work of the one and 
how much that of the other. Equally devoted to classical art, 
they lived together twenty-one years in an uninterrupted unison 
of feelings and ideas; so much so, that Comaro expressed a 
• See Note P 



wish that he might be buried in one tomb with his friend — 
"so that their bodies might not be separated in death, whose 
Bouls in this world had been united by friendship and virtue." 

With these facts before us, it does not seem right to 
accept the opinion of some, who, like Temanza, see Falconetto*s 
work wherever Comaro has built; or that of others who attri- 
bute all to Comaro; but, imtil further proof is attainable, it 
would be wise to abstain from giving any positive opinion. 

The portico, together with other parts of the city palace, 
has been described and commended by many; and, though it 
is not widely known, there are always foreigners who visit it. 
But who goes to visit the edifices mentioned by Marcolini, and 
the others omitted by him, aU away from the city? Not only 
has very little been written about them, but some of them have, 
unfortunately, been forever lost. 

Last summer, while traveling through the Venetian coun- 
try, I went to the scenes of Comaro's work, to find how much 
had, by time and man, been left of the buildings. I did not 
find all that he had built, or even all that had been seen by 
some writers at the end of the last century; but I clearly saw 
that what yet remains is well worth illustrating and writing 
about. Among these remains is a fine architectural work, 
which, until now, so far as I am able to learn, had been for- 
gotten; I also found some useful documents in the course of 
my researches in the archives. Therefore, uniting the fruits 
of my two investigations, I deemed it well to make known 
what I have myself learned about the works constructed in 
the country by the illustrious nobleman. 

It is well, from the very first, to make a distinction between 
the edifices built at Comaro's own expense and for his own 
use, and those built by him for the account of Cardinal Fran- 
cesco Pisani, — Bishop of Padua from 1524 to 1567, — for 
whom Comaro acted as administrator during several years. 
The distinction is readily made; for there still remain the 



documents relating to Comaro's property, which had been pre- 
sented at different times to the officials of the Commune of 
Padua. They do not register any property at either Campagna 
or Luvigliano. Here, therefore, his work was for the Bishopric 
and not for himself. Let us now commence with these two 

At Campagna Lupia, near Dolo, not very far from the 
lagoon, is a large farmhouse which belonged to the Bishop of 
Padua, but is now owned by a gentleman of that city. It was 
this house that Temanza recognized as the one mentioned by 
Marcolini as Comaro's work; though he arbitrarily put it to 
the credit of Falconetto, and published it as such in his bio- 
graphical work, in 1778. 

Twenty-four years later, it was visited by the publisher 
Pietro Brandolese, a passionate lover of artistic researches 
relating to Venice, who described it minutely in an impub- 
lished letter to Count Giovanni de Lazzara, as follows : "At a 
short distance from the church, or rather just before coming 
to it, is a country-house belonging to the Bishopric of Padua, 
built by Falconetto. It is the same one to which Temanza 
refers, at page 138 and the following pages, under the simple 
denomination of 'seventeen arches.' It is wholly of a rustic 
style, built of brick and carefully selected stone. The fagade 
is formed of seventeen arches of slight proportions, flanked by 
very strong pillars. There is no aperture whatever above 
these, and the fagade ends with a simple band which serves 
as a cornice. Under the portico the building is divided into 
three parts by two stairways which lead to the granaries, the 
central section receding a little from the sides. Without a plan 
before us, it is not possible to describe the arrangement of the 
ground floor, which possesses every convenience for farming 
purposes: rooms for the peasants; stables for cattle, horses, 
and all kinds of animals; cellars; etc., — all very cleverly ar- 
ranged. The vaults are wholly in brick — not beams. On the 
first floor are the granaries, which one can enter by the stairs, 
as well as from the terraces by means of an arched bridge, as 
is clearly seen by what remains near the courtyard door. This 



door, in rustic style, is nearly all lost. The fagade of the 
portico is all of hewn stone, with apertures cleverly arranged, 
corresponding to the uses of the house and to its internal dis- 
position. The entire building, in fact, gives evidence of a very 
skillful architect. Its plans would serve, today, as an ingenious 
model for a farmhouse, with due allowance, however, for all the 
modem needs which differ from those of that age." 

The Count de Lazzara, fifteen years later, in a letter which 
was published by Gamba,* warrants the statement that Cornaro 
had "presided" over the construction of this farmhouse, and 
that its architect was his guest. But not even Bishop Dondi 
Orologio, who had made researches for him among the old docu- 
ments, had been able to find the name of this architect, or of 
any other. Wherefore he wrote thus: "If Temanza speaks 
of the beautiful portico at Campagna as having been built by 
Luigi Cornaro, the author of 'La Vita Sohria/ I doubt his 
being right. Cornaro was the administrator of the Bishopric 
of Padua for many years ; and, under the date of August 17, 
1546, there is a writing of Cardinal Pisani, in which the 
Bishop admits owing the aforesaid Cornaro 11,120 ducats, for 
buildings and improvements made by him on the property of 
the Bishopric. The document does not say where the buildings 
were, nor where the improvements were made ; perhaps, among 
the former, the one at Campagna is included." 

The learned Bishop was wise in presuming only that which 
was likely, and affirming nothing more. If it is probable that 
Falconetto may have had something to do with it, there are 
no proofs; so it is useless to mention his name. We may, 
indeed, believe that the building was erected during Cornaro's 
administration; and the fact of its having been attributed to 
him since 1544, in a letter publicly addressed to him, ought to 
be more than sufficient proof. Under such circumstances, doubt 
is unreasonable. 

Certain documents, regarding the adjustment of the ac- 
counts of Cornaro and Cardinal Pisani, testify that the illus- 

* See Note Q 



trious administrator was occupied, during the years 1532, '33, 
and '34, in establishing throughout the lands of the Bishopric 
the system of farming on equal shares ; and an eye-witness tells 
us that "at Campagna his ambitions in this regard were fully 
realized." In all likelihood that was the time when the neces- 
sity for some large place in which to store the harvest was 
most felt; and Cornaro must have provided for it by building 
the country-house in question. There are, in fact, records of 
an account for stone used in building the barns at Campagna, 
which account was presented to the Cardinal. The place was 
commonly called "the granary of Campagna," and it was also 
designated "the episcopal palace in the domain of Campagna." 
It is, to-day, in much the same condition as described by 

!N'ot very far from the monumental Abbey of Praglia — 
upon a little eminence at the foot of the Euganean Hills, from 
which one commands the view of a great part of the Paduan 
plain — rises the palace at Luvigliano, to which ascent is gained 
from the east and west by superb double stairways. This was 
probably the site of the old village church and parish house 
which were demolished and built elsewhere, in 1474, at the 
expense of Bishop Jacobo Zeno, to make way, perhaps, for the 
new building and the adjacent gardens. At all events, the 
palace was erected and completed much later by Cornaro — as 
Marcolini tells us — and, consequently, during his adminis- 
tration; indications, indeed, are not wanting to confirm this 

In the documents pertaining to the adjustment already 
alluded to, this palace at Luvigliano is likewise mentioned in 
reference to the stone employed, as well as to other building 
expenses. It is also likely that when Cornaro gave up his care 
of the Bishopric's property the palace was already completed, 
as would appear from the allusion referring to it, found in a 
summary of his administration: "and he completed the work 
which he had begun." 

Later, during the incumbency of Francesco and Alvise 
Pisani, — prior to 1570, — the fine doorways leading into the 



park and courtyard, the fountain, the crenelated battlements, 
and other things of more or less secondary importance, were 
constructed by the architect Andrea Da Valle, the sculptor 
Agostino Eighetti, and others. In the course of time occurred 
other small additions or restorations ; but always in conformity 
with the original design of the villa, in which one can admire, 
to this day, the happy intellect that created it. 

This, like the rest of Comaro's buildings, has been at- 
tributed to his friend without any proof or reason. Selvatico 
alone reasoned, after examining the palace, that "The style of 
architecture, more than any of the historical notes, discloses 
it to be the work of Falconetto"; and he added this opinion: 
"Though not everyone may be contented with all that adorns 
this structure, none can help admiring the beauty and richness 
of its design." 

Great astonishment was felt that Cardinal Francesco Pisani 
visited only once — perhaps in 1547, and just for a few hours 
— that superb and exquisite palace which used to fill with pride 
the hearts even of those who had merely the good fortune to 
own property in its neighborhood; as was the case with that 
chaplain who wrote, in Latin, this inscription on the wall : 

''langfbancus canipanona, nicknamed ligneamineus, 
the son of alexander, chaplain of the church of the 
father, has prepared this house, together with the ad- 
joining hill carefully cultivated by him and covering 
fifteen fields, near the very beautiful palace and de- 
lightful gardens of the bishopric, in the village of 
livianus, for pleasure and for the convenience op his 
friends, in the year mdlxiii." 

In one of his dialogues, published in 1561, the eminent 
jurist, Marco Mantova Benavides, puts these words in the 
mouth of tJlisse Bassiani: "You certainly do the place [the 
suburban villa at Bassanello] a wrong no less than does Car- 
dinal Pisani, who has only been once to the palace which he 



has constructed at Covigliano Isic"] at such an enormous ex- 
pense that it commands the admiration of all who see it; and 
even then he did not remain more than a day." Oh, what were 
the quiet pleasures of a residence in such a place, to the ambi- 
tion of a Cardinal who was eligible to the papal chair! He 
abandoned even his Bishopric for Rome ! 

Luigi Comaro, on the other hand, knew how to, and did, 
find such pleasures; and all the things he had built for him- 
self he enjoyed both heartily and for a great length of time. 
In 1542, remembering that he had always benefited "literati, 
musicians, architects, painters, sculptors, and others," and that 
he had spent "many and many thousands of crowns in stately 
buildings and in many beautiful gardens," to Speroni he prided 
himself that he knew how to enjoy every happiness in "such 
well-arranged habitations and beautiful gardens of his own 
creation." And, though "many who attain these things do not 
generally enjoy them," he promised himself that, thanks to 
his temperate life, he would yet continue to enjoy them many 
and many years — which promise he certainly fulfilled. Later, 
in his happy and industrious old age, he again expressed his 
satisfaction over it ; and he delighted to teU how he divided his 
time between town and country. To this very circumstance we 
are indebted to him for some interesting points on the subject 
of our research. 

"I go," he writes, "in April and May, and again in Sep- 
tember and October, to enjoy a country-seat of mine in the 
Euganean Hills, most beautifully situated, with its gardens and 
fountains, and especially its beautiful and comfortable dwelling. 
I sometimes go there, also, to take part in the pleasant and 
agreeable hunting, of the kind suitable to my age. I enjoy, 
for as many days, my villa in the plain, which is beautiful, 
with many pretty streets all meeting in a fine square, in the 
center of which stands its church, highly honored, as befits the 
importance of the place. The villa is divided by a wide and 
rapid branch of the river Brenta, on either side of which the 



country extends in cultivated and fertile fields; and it is now 

— the Lord be thanked ! — very well populated, which before 
was certainly not the case, but rather the opposite, as it was 
marshy and malarial, and more suited to snakes than to men. 
After I had drained off the water, the air became pure, and 
people began to settle; the inhabitants multiplied greatly, and 
the place grew to the perfect state in which one sees it to-day. 
I can, therefore, truly say that in this place I gave to God an 
altar, a temple, and souls to worship Hinu" 

This is the village of Codevigo, about four miles distant 
from Piove di Sacco; here the records of the Paduan Com- 
mune indicate, in addition to the numerous and extensive pos- 
sessions of Comaro, a house for his own use, "with a courtyard, 
kitchen-garden, orchard, and vineyard" of about the size of 
"five fields." One of his nephews, in a letter, describes it as 
follows: "His country-seat, both comfortable and adapted to 
agriculture, is built according to the finest architecture, and is 
stronger and more commodious than any other in the neigh- 
borhood. He wished to construct the vaults entirely of stone, 
so as to be safe in case of fire, war, or any other calamity." 
Marcolini also confirms that it was built by Comaro. 

In the same village, — according to this nephew, — besides 
the beautiful church which he transformed from the unattractive 
structure it had formerly been, and the altar of which Comaro 
himself spoke, he also built the bridge over the river Brenta 

— "a work worthy not only of a single individual but of a 
whole community" — as well as many houses for the farmers. 
But, in the course of time, much of all this was lost ; and there 
remains, at present, even less than was seen by Temanza and 

Temanza, who always returned gladly to those places to 
see Comaro's edifices, which he judged as "works of merit 
and worthy of being imitated," wrote in the following man- 
ner : "At the village of Codevigo in the country round Padua, 
situated on the right bank of the river Brenta, — which, in that 
part, is called Brentone, — Comaro owned an enormous estate. 



The health of the place was impaired by stagnant waters, for 
the drainage of which no means had as yet been provided ; and 
he, who for those times was learned in hydrostatics, reduced the 
marshes to dry land, improved the condition of the atmosphere, 
and thereby caused a great increase in the number of settlers. 
He first built the parish church, dedicated to the prophet 
Zacharias. He then constructed a noble, though not very large, 
palace, with porticos and courtyards, as becomes a villa. All 
these buildings are the work of Giovanni Maria [Falconetto]. 
A majestic doorway forms the entrance to the palace. It has 
two Ionic columns on the sides, a rich cornice, and a majestic 
frontispiece, which bears, carved in the center of its upper part, 
a large eagle with wings outspread. This edifice has two stories ; 
the first is vaulted, the second has rafted ceilings. The lower 
part of the church facade, — which is in Doric style, — as well 
as the doorway and windows, reminds one of the style of Fal- 
conetto. The altar bears the same character, and has a fine 
terra-cotta bas-relief of good workmanship, representing a scene 
in the life of the prophet Zacharias." 

One cannot imagine where Temanza obtained his informa- 
tion about the priority of the building of the church, or the 
certainty that all these edifices were due to Falconetto, though 
his writings are decidedly of value; for, as early as 1802, 
vandal hands had begun to destroy these monuments. 

As good fortune would have it, in that very year, on the 
eighth of July, Brandolese happened to be there; and he gave 
to Count de Lazzara the following narrative of his experience : 
"I proceeded eagerly to Codevigo, to learn what remained there 
of Falconetto's work. The church does not exist any more, 
except, as you know, the Doric part of the f agade ; and of these 
remains I admired the model and the elegance of different parts. 
On entering the church to see the altar, I found that the place 
where it used to exist was in the course of reconstruction, and 
saw the original pieces thrown carelessly on the ground. I in- 
quired what was to be the fate of this fine monument, and 
learned that it was to be reduced and refitted for a new chapeL 



I pleaded with the parish priest that it might be rebuilt as it 
was originally, and I trust I have obtained the favor. I ob- 
served the archway in the buildings close by, now belonging 
to the Foscari family; and I admired more than ever the wise 
investigator of the remains of Roman art." 

Brandolese's words were heeded, and the exquisite altar 
remains to this day, though without the table and the terra- 
cotta bas-relief; and it occupies the chapel to the left of the 
principal altar. 

The old bridge, and the doorway of the Cornaro Palace, 
however, exist no longer. The building has been repeatedly 
modified, and now presents nothing especially worthy of notice ; 
only a few stones, which may have formed the base of the 
columns of the doorway, still lie scattered about under the 
courtyard portico. The fagade of the church, which is Doric 
below and Corinthian above, had been recently whitened; and 
the old steeple, which leaned so greatly to one side as to threaten 
a collapse, had been supported with a buttress extending nearly 
to the belfry. 

We have yet to speak of the other villa mentioned by 
Cornaro before he spoke of Codevigo. He does not name it, 
but only says it was in the Euganean Hills and "in their most 
beautiful spot." Some thought of Luvigliano, and supposed that 
he had there taken to draining the marshes, felling the woods, 
breaking up the ground, and cultivating the lands; and they 
eaid that the fact of his having breathed the pure air of that 
place was one of the causes which prolonged his life to a very 
old age. Gamba believed that it did not become the property 
of the Bishopric of Padua until sometime later; but such, as 
we have seen, it had always been; and we cannot believe that 
the noble Cornaro considered it, even during his administration, 
as his own property, or lived there as if it were his own home. 
Of which place, then, does he mean to speak? Not one of 
the many who have written about him has ever yet told us, 
notwithstanding the fact that in 1842, among the collection of 
Venetian inscriptions edited by Cicogna, was published the 
letter of Comaro's nephew, already mentioned, which explains 
that this villa was at Este. 



"He created," writes the nephew, "on a hill near Este, a 
delightful garden, full of divers and delicate fountains and 
perfect grapes." And, continuing : "In his youth he delighted 
in hunting big game, such as wild boar and the stag; and, as 
such animals were not to be found in this country [near Padua], 
but in the territory of Este divided by an arm of the Po 
Isic], he built there a comfortable hunting residence; and an- 
nually, for many a year, he used to go there, killing a large 
number of these animals, which he either sent to some of his 
friends, or else distributed in Venice or Padua. When the sport 
was at its end, he had a comedy prepared and given in his own 
hall, which he had built in imitation of the ancient ones. The 
stage was made of durable stone ; but the part reserved for the 
audience was of wood, so that it could be taken down and re- 
moved. These performances were all very successful, as he 
had living with him some clever artists, such as the famous 

Furthermore, the Paduap. records confirm, without any 
doubt, that he owned "a house on the hills outside the gates of 
Este, with an orchard and a vineyard of six fields," which he 
kept for his private use. 

Carefully examining all the records, as well as all the his- 
tories of Este that have ever been published, I found — and 
that in a monograph of 1851 — only the following imcertain 
allusion to a Comaro Villa built at that place : "Beyond [the 
Kunkler Palace] to the left, is a palace, perhaps in old days 
that of Comaro, and later belonging to the Earsetti family; it 
is built on a beautiful height, and has been, according to the 
designs of Japelli, enlarged and improved with great taste by 
its present owner. Doctor Adolfo Benvenuti." 

I then went to Este to find this Villa Benvenuti ; and, to 
my surprise and delight, I found at the entrance of the garden 
a fine archway of classic style, in which I thought I saw no 
little resemblance to the architectural works of Comaro and 
Ealconetto. The situation of the villa coincides precisely with 
the description in the records of Padua ; for we find, by exam- 

• See Note S 



ining old topographical maps, that, in order to get to it from 
the center of the city, it was necessary to pass the Santa Tecla 
gate, which was demolished centuries ago. 

The archives of the city of Este contained nothing that 
could convert my supposition into certainty; but a few days 
later, while examining the old papers of the Bishopric of Padua, 
I came upon a contract of 1650, in which the Procurator Gio- 
vanni Battista Cornaro had leased to Giorgio Comaro, Bishop 
of Padua, for ten years, "his palace at Este, near the convent 
of the Capuchins, with all its fields, kitchen-gardens, orchards, 
parks, fountains, vineyards, etc." To this contract was an- 
nexed a minutely detailed inventory of the furniture in the 
house. This document dispelled all my doubts, as many details 
mentioned in it are identical with the views of the Villa Ear- 
setti and its garden, drawn by Coronelli in the beginning of the 
eighteenth century; and other particulars have been preserved, 
and are noticeable to this day, in the Villa Benvenuti. This 
villa, belonging formerly to the Farsetti family, is therefore 
none other than the old Villa Comaro: it is near the convent 
of the Capuchins, and nearer to it is the house of the farmer 
who has charge of it; just as we know that the palace of the 
Procurator Comaro was near the convent, and that nearer still 
was the house of his steward. 

In the Benvenuti garden there is running water, which is 
very scarce in these hills; this is made to pass through lead 
pipes. In fact, we find recorded in the inventory "eighty-six 
pipes of lead, weighing 2080 lbs.," to be used for the fountains. 
And, furthermore, a historian of Este, in 1743, published the 
following: "There is Cavalier Farsetti's villa near the con- 
vent of the Capuchins, where the house, being an unpretentious 
one, does not arouse great curiosity to see it; but the site and 
the playing fountains are worthy to be considered; and the 
place has frequent visitors." If we also examine minutely the 
engravings of Coronelli we shall see a portico of seven arches 
under the palace; in the garden a large stairway, with many 
flower vases on pedestals on each side ; and, close by, two viije 
trellises. The inventory, furthermore, mentions a portico below 



in the front of the palace ; a stairway on the outside ; numerous 
boxes and vases of plants — among them lemon trees, orange 
trees, and prickly-pear trees; fifty pedestals of stone for the 
orange trees ; and vine trellises supported by columns of stone, 
connected by iron arches. 

These comparisons are more than sufficient to establish the 
identity of the two villas. But, in ending, I shall not omit to 
add another piece of information furnished by the inventory. 
In it is a full list of an interesting collection of pictures which 
were distributed about the rooms of the palace. Among them, 
besides "a Comaro coat of arms painted on canvas," and a 
portrait of the well-known Queen of Cyprus, there is a painting 
of Ruzzante, the protege and affectionate friend of Luigi Cor- 
naro, who used to frequent with him these lovely hills, and 
who, after the hunting, would recite in the hall which Comaro 
had built in his own house. Of this hall there is now no 
vestige ; and the palace is really no longer the one of yore, as 
the architect of the Caffe Pedrocchi has repaired it on an ex- 
tensive scale. But Coronelli's engraving remains, and it gives 
us some idea of the physiognomy of the building erected by the 
famous author of "La Vita Sobria/' 

We can suppose the same about the garden, on comparing 
the other engraving, where we see the stairway leading from 
the courtyard to the first floor of the palace, but not the classical 
archway which stood at the foot of it. And yet the engraver 
Sebastiano Giampiccoli did not omit to picture it — though 
very imperfectly — with the garden and stairway, the palace 
and the large lateral conservatories; as did also an amateur, 
who, in 1775, engraved a panorama of the city. We find it 
more faithfully reproduced in the "Design of the Ancient City 
of Este" of 1566, which accompanies the unpublished history 
of Michele Lonigo, to be found in the Estense Library of Mo- 
dena. This drawing proves that the archway was there at least 
as early as the year following Luigi Comaro's death, and it is 
reasonable to suppose that it was he who built it; this suppo- 
sition is strengthened by the proofs of the great resemblance 
between the architectural style of this arch and the works of 
Comaro and his friend Falconetto. 



The Este archway belongs to the Koman style, of which 
the two were such enthusiastic admirers; and it is, indeed, a 
free imitation of the archway of Janus Quadrifrons, erected 
in Rome not earlier than the reign of Caracalla, or that of 
Septimius Severus, or, according to some, as late as the time 
of Constantine. In the treatises on architecture of the six- 
teenth century it had already taken its place among the models. 
Furthermore, the two architects, Comaro and Falconetto, must 
certainly have seen and examined it, during their visits to Rome 
to study the building art of the ancients. 

In the modem, as well as in the ancient arch, there are 
small niches, with vaultings in the shape of shells ; but in the 
former their number was reduced from twelve to eight in the 
first two divisions, and were omitted altogether in the third 
to the summit of the arch, on which there was simply an attic, 
as on others of Falconetto's arches — but without inscriptions 
or figures. The style of the little pillars between the niches is 
not varied as in the Roman model; but only the Composite is 
used, which was also called Triumphal, from the triumphal 
archways. The grand arch itself rests on two protruding siUs, 
the keystone is sculptured, and the panaches are ornamented 
by two flying Victories with their torches extended. These 
particulars, which are wanting in the arch of Janus, are found 
in the works of Falconetto and the buildings erected by Comaro. 
In fact, the jambs of the famous portico present the same shape 
as the archway — fine or heavy, as the case may be. Besides, 
the central arch of the portico bears two sculptured Goddesses 
of Fame, undoubtedly different and better, but respectively an- 
alogous in the attitude of the arms; and the next two parts of 
the archways inclose here, likewise, a head of a satyr with 
ram's horns — an ornament used by the Veronese artist also on 
the exterior of the gate of Savonarola. 

One could find other analogies beyond these, of which there 
is, perhaps, no need. Let us observe, instead, a difference which 
seems to contradict. The proportion between the width and 
the height of the opening in the Este archway is less than one- 
half ; Falconetto, instead, always made the breadth surpass half 



of the height. But we must know here that, as Japelli had to 
lower the level of the courtyard, he lowered also the ground 
under the arch and lengthened the ends of the pillars, as is 
told us by the people of the place, and as is visible by the 
difference in the new stone which was used. To him, therefore, 
is due the alteration; and it does not in the least weaken the 
supposition that it was erected by Comaro, perhaps with Fal- 
conetto's aid. 

Though my effort to arrive at this conclusion may, after 
all, appear to some a useless one, surely it will not be judged 
so by those who reflect that I have called the attention of the 
learned to a fine work of the closing period of the Venetian 
Kenaissance — one which no one had as yet brought to notice. 

— Emilo Lovarini. 


This is the excellent foppery of the world, that 
when we are sick in fortune — often the surfeit of our 
own behavior — we make guilty of our disasters the 
sun, the moon, and the stars : as if we were villains by 
necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, 
thieves, and treachers, by spherical predominance; 
drunkards, liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obe- 
dience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil 
in, by a divine thrusting on: an admirable evasion of 
Tnan, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a 
star! — "King Lear/* 










A — According to the official count of the returns of the Twelfth 
Census (Census Reports, Vol. II., pp. XXXVI. and XXXVIII.), 
the population of the mainland of the United States (excluding 
Alaska, Hawaii, and persons in the military and naval service of the 
United States, stationed abroad) was, in 1900, as follows: 

Total Males Females 

75,994,575 38,816,448 (51.1 per cent.) 37,178,127 (48.9 per cent) 

The number of persons returned as 90 years of age and over was 
33,762, classified by sex and age groups as follows : 

Total Men Per cent. 
90 to 94 years 23,992 9,858 41.1 

95 to 99 years 6,266 2,417 38.6 

100 years and over 3,504 1,271 36.3 

B — John Witt Randall (1813-1892) was a great-grandson of Sam- 
uel Adams, the American Revolutionary patriot. This poem was selected 
by William Cullen Bryant for publication in his review of Randall's 
"Consolations of Solitude." The article appeared in the New York 
"Evening Post" of December 17, 1856. The poem is here reproduced by 
courtesy of Francis EUingwood Abbot, editor of Randall's "Poems of 
Nature and Life" (George H. Ellis, Boston, 1899). 

G — In the selections from Addison, Bacon, Temple, etc., the spell- 
ing and punctuation have been, to some extent, modernized. The 
Bacon article is not an unbroken section of his works, but a collection 
of many short passages, in the arrangement of which we have avoided 
the use of the customary indication of omissions of irrelevant matter. 
The same is true of the article from Temple's works. 

D — LuiGi CoBNABo: Pronovmced, Loo-ee'jee Kor-nah'ro. Ancient 
Venetian, Alvise; modern Italian, Luigi, Lodovico, or Ludovico; French, 
Louis; English, Lewis. "La Vita Sohria": Pronovmced, Lah Vee'tah 

E — The Di Spilimbeboo family was an Italian patrician branch of 
a house of German origin, which, as early as the 13th century, resided 
and ruled in that part of Friuli, in northern Italy, known as Spilim- 
bergo. This noble and ancient house was very powerful, exercising — 
In some cases feudal, in others allodial — lordship over many vast 
estates, among which were the castles of Spilimbergo, Zuccola, Solim- 
bergo, Flambro, Belgrado, and others. The family, ennobled In 1532 
by Emperor Charles V., numbered among its eminent members many 
soldiers, statesmen, prelates, and artists — one of the latter being the 



famous painter, Irene dl Spilimbergo (1540-1559). The city of Spllim- 
bergo, — of which the population in 1901 was 2,331, — on the Tajamento, 
14 miles west of Udlne, was named after this family. 

F — GiovANin Makia (John Mary) Faxconetto, one of the most 
eminent of Italian architects, was born at Verona, in 1458. He studied 
architecture at Rome, then returned to Verona, later making his home 
in Padua. Greatly improving the style of architecture in the Venetian 
states, he designed and constructed many admirable buildings and other 
works in Padua, Verona, and elsewhere. His masterpiece, the cele- 
brated Cornaro Loggia in Padua, suggested to Palladio the design of 
his villa at Vicenza, the famous Rotonda Capra; the latter — once one 
of the greatest monuments of modem architectural art, and described 
by Goethe as a marvel of splendor — has, in Its turn, served as a copy 
for others, among them the beautiful Chiswick House, the villa of the 
dukes of Devonshire, at Chiswick, England. In the Chiu*ch of San 
Antonio, in Padua, the Cappella del Santo, so remarkable for its 
grandeur and beauty, was completed by him. He died in 1534. 

G — Claudius GATEmis, commonly known as Galen, the most emi- 
nent physician, as well as one of the most learned and accomplished 
men, of his day, was born at Pergamus, in Mysla, Asia Minor, A. D. 180. 
At the age of fifteen he studied logic and philosophy at his native city ; 
two years later he began the study of medicine, continuing It at 
Smyrna, Corinth, and Alexandria. At the age of thirty-four he re- 
moved to Rome ; there he gained great fame, and became the physician 
of the Illustrious philosopher. Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, as 
well as of the Emperors Lucius Verus, Lucius Aurelius Commodus, and 
Lucius Septlmlus Severus. JHe was born with a very delicate consti^ 
tutlon; yet, by living a strictly temperate life and never fully satis^ 
fylng his appetite, he was eiiabled to attain great age. The place and 
date of his death are uncertain, occurring, according to some historians, 
at his native city. In the year 201 ; while others place the date as much 
as eighteen years later. There are good reasons for believing the latter 
to be correct 

Galen confessed himself greatly indebted to the writings of Hip- 
pocrates, who preceded him about six centuries, and who Is known as 
The Father of Medicine. He was an extensive writer on medicine and 
philosophy, as well as on logic and ethics ; of his works there are still 
In existence eighty-three treatises, besides fifteen commentaries on 
the works of Hippocrates. For thirteen hundred years, throughout 
Europe and the Blast, Galen was the recognized authority in the science 
of medicine. 

H— Doge (the Venetian modified form of the Italian duce, from 
the Latin dux, a leader or duke) was the title of the chief magistrate 



of the Republic of Venice. The dignity, or office, was called Dogato. 
The incumbent was always elected for life, and was originally chosen 
by universal suffrage. He continued to acquire more and more irre- 
sponsible authority, until, in 1033 and 1172, laws were passed which, 
in various ways, greatly reduced his power. These included the asso- 
ciation with him of a body of 470 councilors, known as the Great 
Council. At the same time universal suffrage was abolished. 

In 1268, the doge — "King in the forum, senator in the legislative 
hall, prisoner in the palace" — was elected by a peculiarly complex 
method, which remained in vogue, with but little change, until the fall 
of the Republic : thirty members of the Great Coimcil, elected by ballot, 
chose nine members ; they, in tlieir turn, chose forty ; twelve of these 
forty, selected by lot, chose twenty-five; the twenty-five were reduced 
to nine; the nine elected forty-five; the forty-five were reduced to 
eleven; and the eleven chose the final forty-one, in whose hands lay 
the actual election of the doge. The powers of the doge became, in 
time, so restricted as to be little more than nominal; and the constant 
espionage to which he was subjected, made the office less sought for 
than in the past; indeed, in 1339, it was necessary to forbid, by law, 
the resignation of the incumbent There were, in all, one himdred 
and twenty doges ; the first, Paolo Lucio Anafesto, was elected in 697 ; 
the last, Lodovico Manin, in 1789. Of the whole number, the Cornaro 
family furnished four. 

I — After the dignity of Doge, that of Pbocubatob op St. Make 
(Italian, Procuratorc di San Marco) was the highest Originally, there 
was only one procurator; but, in 1442, the niunber was increased to 
nine. They discharged functions of a varied and responsible character, 
and were designated as follows: the Procurator de supra (above), In 
whose care was the imposing Basilica of St Mark — one of the most 
Interesting churches in Europe, begun in 828 but not consecrated until 
1111 — as well as the revenues attached to It; the Procurator de oitra 
(this side), who had charge of the charitable works on "this side"; 
and the Procurator de ultra (beyond), who had charge of them on 
"that side," — of the Grand Canal. As the office was bestowed only 
upon the foremost men of the day, it was occupied by many whose 
names form a part of Venetian, and often of European, history. 
Twenty-two members of the Cornaro family are found in this roll of 
Illustrious men, which ended with the fall of the Republic. 

J— The Extoanean Huxs (Italian, Colli Euganei) were so named 
from the people, who, according to LIvy, occupied this territory until 
driven out by the Veneti. The highest point Is Monte Venda. These 
hills are covered with a luxuriant growth, and the views from their 
stunmits are the finest in all Italy. It was the red larch, and the 
granitic and porphyritic rocks abounding there, that were largely used 



In the construction of the Doge's Palace — built originally about the 
year 820 — and other famous buildings of Venice. Of the many col- 
lections of prehistoric relics fovmd in these hills, that in the Museum 
of Antiquities of Mantua is especially interesting and valuable. With 
lovers of musical verse, Shelley's poem, "Lines Written Among the 
Euganean Hills," has long been a familiar favorite. 

K — Danielle (Daniel) Babbabo, an Italian ecclesiastic and Patri- 
arch of Aquileia, was born at Venice, in 1513. He was an extensive 
writer, among his works being a treatise, "On Eloquence" and a com- 
mentary, "On the Architecture of Vitruvius" ; the latter contributing 
largely toward the return to the classical style of architecture. His 
beautiful residence, a unique specimen of the villas of the Venetian 
nobility of the period, was created and adorned by the united genius 
of three of the great artists of the Renaissance, — Andrea Palladio, 
Paolo Veronese, and Allessandro Vittoria, — and was a noted center of 
arts and letters. He died in 1570. 

L — AQmuEiA, an ancient city at the head of the Adriatic, 22 miles 
northwest of Trieste, was colonized by the Romans about 181 B. C. 
At a later period it was chosen by Julius Caesar as headquarters for 
his forces in Cisalpine Gaul. In 160, the Emperor Marcus Aurelius 
Antoninus fortified it so strongly that it was considered the first bul- 
wark of the Roman Empire against the northern barbarians, and was 
called The Second Rome. At one time it was the capital and first 
city of Venetia. In the 5th century it had 100,000 inhabitants; but, 
in 452, it was destroyed by Attila, King of the Huns, and the inhab- 
itants fled to the lagoons on which Venice now stands. From this it 
never fully recovered; yet, rebuilt, it continued to enjoy considerable 
prosperity. At the council of 556, the Bishop of Aquileia separated 
from the Church of Rome and took the title of Patriarch. In 1420, 
Venice deprived it of most of its possessions; and, in the latter half 
of the eighteenth century, the Patriarchate was abolished. The city 
is said to have derived its name from the Latin aquila, an eagle having 
appeared as a favorable omen to its founders ; but it is more probable 
that the name owes its origin to the fact that the "aquila" was the 
standard of the Romans. The population is now about 2,000. 

M — The CoBPTELii ranked among the most illustrious of the patri- 
cian families of Rome, and no other house produced a greater number 
of individuals who notably distinguished themselves in war and civil 
affairs. To this family belonged Cornelia, — daughter of the famous 
Scipio, and wife of Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, — who is known 
in history not only as Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi, but also as the 
purest woman mentioned in the historical period of Rome. She was 
the mother of twelve children and lived to extreme old age, dying 
about 130 B. G. 



N — From a mural tablet in the First Church, Quincy, Massachu- 
setts ; placed there in memory of John Adams, the second President of 
the United States, and Abigail Smith, his wife. 

— The BucENTATJE (Italian, II Bucentoro), the state galley of the 
Venetian doges, was employed to conduct illustrious guests, whom the 
Republic delighted to honor, to the Ducal Palace. It was also tised 
in the ceremony of espousing the Adriatic, into whose waters the doge 
dropped a ring, with these words: "We espouse thee. Sea, in token 
of true and perpetual sovereignty." This historic custom, which was 
in itself a proclamation and a challenge to the world, originated in the 
celebration of the triumph, in 1177, of the Venetians under Sebastian© 
Ziani, the 39th doge, over the forces of Frederick I. (Barbarossa), 
Emperor of Germany; and was annually observed, without interrup- 
tion and with all its original pomp and splendor, from that year until 
the close of the Republic in 1797. The galley, 100 feet long and 21 
feet in extreme breadth, was manned by 168 rowers, four to each oar, 
and by 40 sailors. Its fittings, gorgeous in the extreme, were brilliant 
with scarlet and gold; its long banks of oars brightly burnished; and 
its deck and seats inlaid with costly woods. The ship perhaps received 
Its name from the figure of a bucentaur — head of a man and body of 
a bull — in the bow. 

P— The Golden Book (Italian, II lAbro d'Oro), was the parch- 
ment register in which were kept the complete records of the births, 
marriages, deaths, etc., of all the members of the Venetian hereditary 
nobility. Anyone enrolled in this famous register, had he attained the 
age of twenty-five and been found worthy, was eligible to membership 
in the Great Council. It was a unique institution; opened in 1315, it 
enjoyed a duration of centuries, until it was closed, forever, in the fatal 
year of 1797. It is now among the archives of the Republic. 

Q — Babtolomeo (Bartholomew) Gamba, a noted Italian biographer 
and author, was born at Bassano, — on the river Brenta, in northern 
Italy, — May 15, 1766. As a distinguished printer and editor, he was 
elected, in 1831, Vice-Librarian of the Marciana. There he acquired 
such fame as a bibliographer, that he was made a member of several 
Italian academies, including the one at Florence. Among his many 
writings, acknowledged to be of great merit, are: "A Qallery of the 
Literati tmd Artists of the Venetian Provinces in the Eighteenth Cen- 
tury" (1824), and his "Life of Dante" (1825). He died May 3, 1841. 

R — Caius Cilnius Maecenas, a celebrated Roman statesman, and 
the most influential patron of literature at Rome, was born about 70 
B. C, of an ancient and noble Etruscan family. He was, for many 
years, the intimate friend, as well as chief minister and adviser, of 
the Emperor Augustus, by whom he was held in the highest respect 
and honor. His palace, on the Esquillne Hill, was long the principal 



resort of the literati of Rome. It was chiefly due to his aid that the 
poets Horace and Virgil were granted the means for the enjoyment 
of literary leisure; and the latter wrote his "Georgics" at the request 
of his benefactor. His death, occurring at Rome, in the year 8 B. C, 
was considered by all — especially by Augustus — an irreparable loss. 
As early as the 1st century his name had become proverbial as a patron 
of letters; Indeed, among all the names — royal, noble, or otherwise 
eminent — associated with their patronage, none in ancient or modern 
times is so familiarly known as that of Maecenas; a century after 
whose death the poet Martial wrote : "Let there but be Maecenases, and 
Virgils shall not be lacking." Maecenas is a familiar character in 
Shakespeare's "Antonv and Cleopatra." 

S — RuzzANTE, a favorite Italian dramatic poet, whose true name 
was Angelo Beolco, was born at Padua, in 1502. Gifted with remark- 
able talent, he was the author of many dialogues, discourses, and 
various other writings in the rustic Paduan dialect, which he had 
thoroughly mastered. The large number of comedies which he com- 
posed were all highly applauded wherever heard. 

A few young men of good family accompanied him on his travels 
as an artist, reciting, as he did, under the shelter of a disguise — con- 
cealing their real names under others borrowed from the scenes in 
which they appeared. In the recital of these farces he took the part 
of the joker or jester (Italian, Ruzzante) ; and it was to this circum- 
stance that he owed his sobriquet of Ruzzante, which climg to him 
ever after. Indeed, from that time on, he used it instead of his family 
name; it even appeared in his works, which were published, complete, 
at Vicenza, in 1584, 1598, and 1617, under the title : "All the Works of 
the Most Famous Ruzzante, "Newly and with the Greatest Diligence 
Revised and Corrected." He died March 17, 1542. 

T — Emilio Loeenzo Lovabini, professor of Italian literature in the 
royal Lieeo (High School) Minghetti, of Bologna, was born at Venice, 
March 7, 1866. His youth was passed in Padua, where he completed 
his education, receiving his degree of doctor of philology from the 
University of that city, July, 1889. 

Although still a young man, Dr. Lovarini has already acquired 
considerable reputation as an authority on various subjects, his re- 
searches covering a wide range. His chief writings pertain to the 
customs, dialect, folk lore, and rustic literature of ancient Padua; the 
habits and pastimes of students of the University in the 16th cen- 
tury ; etc. He is the author, also, of a biography of Ruzzante, an illus- 
trated critical edition of whose works he is now preparing. He has 
published a Ughly interesting work on gypsy melodies, and the songs 
of Taranto. 

U— From Vol. II., Nos. VI.- VII., AprU-July, 1899 — of "UArte," 
of Rome. 

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